God simplified things for sinful man. We complicate things for sinful man. I refer of course to the entire group of people who would carry out their religious act to the point that others perceive God to be ‘impossible’ to get to know. You know the ones I speak of. Now, not casting any stones here, but the best way for us as Christians to be on mission with God is to simply tell others what He has already done for us!
Those around you desperately need to be encouraged by your latest encounter with Christ. Some have lost hope that they can experience the reality of God’s presence in their lives. They don’t need your philosophies or theological speculations. They don’t need to hear your opinions on what they should do. They need to hear from someone who has just come from a personal, life-changing encounter with the living Christ. When you have had such an experience you will be like the apostle John, hardly able to contain yourself as you rush out to tell others of your amazing encounter with God. Your responsibility will not be to convince others of the reality of God, but simply to bear witness to what your Lord has said and done for you. The change in your life will be your greatest testimony of your relationship to Christ. There is nothing more appealing or convincing to a watching world than to hear the testimony of someone who has just been with Jesus- Henry Blackaby
1. We have received the Command: Go! – “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” Romans 1: 8
2. To Release what is already inside of you! – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15: 13
3. To Learn the Lifestyle! – “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 10: 7
4. Your life is meant to overflow with unimaginable JOY and POWER! – “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water
I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4: 13-14
5. The Bible says: “Taste” to see! That the Lord is Good… – “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34: 8
As more and more followers were gathering around Jesus in His public ministry, He deliberately separated the twelve to Himself at the end of His second missionary journey. This group of a dozen men had traveled everywhere with Him on the Galilean tour that He had just completed. It was time for these chosen ones to go out and represent Him on this third and final venture. It took place during the third year of the Lord’s public ministry. It is estimated that it possibly took the better part of a year because it was to probe into all parts of Galilee. It would seem that on this tour Jesus went His way and the twelve went theirs as He directed and sent them. You and I fit right into this strategic plan. Jesus has ascended to the father, the comforter (Holy Spirit) has come. He is able to send all of us in any direction He so chooses “if” we will surrender and allow Him to do the directing.
May I challenge you today to ‘GO’? Just pray and Go. God will do the rest. I can’t wait to hear about the results! Be blessed as you obey Him.
I always remember knowing a lot about ‘who God was’ when I was growing up. I started drinking when I was 14 years old. My parents were divorced during my Senior year of High School and things just seemed to go downhill from there. Looking back, I believe that my first sign of rebellion against God was at age 12 when I told my aunt that I “didn’t have to walk the aisle of the church and be baptized”. All my friends were doing it and she obviously loved me and wanted me to be saved. I continued my drinking on up into my adult life and got really good at it. So good that people “didn’t know I was even drunk!” If you were to look at me, I seemed like any normal High School student with normal challenges to overcome just like anyone. I mean after all we did live in a nice house, had brand new cars, nice clothes on our backs, and attended the private school in our town. Most people thought our family had it ‘made’. Not sure if you’ve been there before but it was just hard to stop and realize that there were serious issues that needed to be dealt with in my then young life and at the pace I was on, there just didn’t seem to be a good stopping point to quote ‘deal with them’.
Drinking became my main theme. Everything I did involved me taking another drink. I always said, ‘I’ll never be a drunk, I’ll never be an alcoholic, it’s not a problem for me’. NEVER. Well, never say never. Because it definitely became a problem. By the end of my 20 year drinking span, it had become such a force in my life that I was willing to steal blank checks from my mother’s check book and forge here signature to purchase beer for my habit.
When my friend’s father in law talked with me about Jesus, he gave me a clear choice. It didn’t involve a 12 step program, any particular duties that I had to remember to fulfill, no obligations that I had to keep up with. NOTHING on my part was needed other than my consent! I had to give up! Ha! So let me get this straight, I was taught all my life to ‘work hard’ … ‘never quit’ … and yes … ‘never give up!’ Let me ask you, does any of this sound familiar to you? I mean, let’s face it, we all are taught basic life values by our parents and most of us would say that we’ve been taught to do all of these and make the most of our lives as we grow older. Giving up made absolutely no sense to me to be honest with you but I knew that I wanted a better life. I was miserable. I had no drive. All the dreams I had as a child were long forgotten and I had minimized my life to barely getting by and was happy with that. I was in debt. Life had not turned out the way I had planned. In reality, I had already given up, I just didn’t want to face it.
So what I really was looking for that day I met Jesus was a little ‘religious counseling’. I did not get up that morning and plan to meet the King of Kings. It just never crossed my mind. When I heard that God commended His love for me in that ‘while I was yet a sinner’ Christ died for me, it blew me away. I would describe it like a slide show flashing through my mind that day. There were very vivid images of so many times that I absolutely could not stop drinking. I was so hooked on the feeling of having a ‘buzz’ that I just could not find a stopping point. I remembered all the times that I totally disrespected my mother, who loved me so unconditionally that I can’t even describe to you. She has more grace than anyone I know, other than my Lord. She never judged me. She just would keep hoping that I would change. Can you believe that I would have the nerve to go behind my mother’s back and take checks from her checkbook and forge her name so that I could buy another drink? I can… now that I know the truth about our sinful nature. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. It’s simple, until you know Jesus personally, you can’t help but be a slave to sin. It’s just a spiritual fact. So stuck in slavery, I was dragging through life and staring at utter failure day after day. Until this day. It was incredible. My pastor told me I would never be the same. Strange, I just didn’t hear any sirens or fireworks, no big loud roar of claps and cheers. Just a loud calm that came over me like nothing I’d experienced in my entire life. I had been forgiven. Yep, the minute I asked, it happened. He said He would, and He did. Knowing Jesus is so simple. I can’t believe the number of times I missed out on the chance to say yes to Him. But finally at 34, life began again.
So here’s what happened: He set me FREE. I asked Him, and He did what He said He would. Forgiven. I had been chained to sin. All of my life I had been lost and in slavery to sin. Which lines up exactly with what God’s word says about sin. All of us have done it, all of us owe the penalty for it. What’s penalty? Death. Yes, the wage for sin is death. Death spiritually, separated from God in a real place called hell. Death physically, separated from this earth. I know. It’s bad. Death is a scary thing to begin with, especially if you have no idea what happens next. Now I do. I get to spend eternity with the one who paid my sin debt in full, Jesus Christ. Somebody asked me if I knew exactly where heaven was and I told them, it’s where Jesus is. What else do you need to know? Now, you don’t have to believe it. I pray though, that you will. Every addiction I ever had was broken off of me that day. I know it sounds too good to be true. But it doesn’t change the fact that it happened. Alcohol, Sexual addiction, pornography, smokeless tobacco, foul mouth talking (which took a little time), all fell off of me. Chains that had me completely paralyzed to live a free and abundant life, GONE. FOREVER.
And so I hope that this snapshot of my life and heart will be an encouragement to you to know this; that if the Bible says: “for whom the Son sets free is free indeed” … that is exactly what it means. FREE INDEED.
or should I say: FREE … A LOT!
Now that is definitely … good news!
You may have never met anyone as wild and violent as the man Jesus met with in Gadara (Lk. 8:26-39). He was clearly and expressly, under the control of a demonic power that had ripped him from society and had made him a violent, screaming maniac. Jesus delivered him from Satan’s control. He put him in his right mind and made him fit for both His kingdom and His world.
Satan undoubtedly still uses demon possession to express his hatred for God and mankind. He will usually do it in less spectacular ways. For example, getting people to believe that we are nothing more than chance products of blind evolution is an idea that works very well for him today. Such a belief is attractive to many because it promises freedom from moral restraints and offers immediate gratification. But multitudes who start down the road of permissiveness are soon trapped in a lifestyle of enslaving addictions and shameless practices that rob them of self-respect, satisfaction, and hope. Essentially, Satan has them in his power, just as he had the maniac.
The good news for those trapped in sin is that Jesus Christ still delivers all who turn to Him. And the good news for those who have trusted Christ for deliverance is that we have a message of hope worth telling to others as we go.
- Whatever you allow yourself to be addicted to becomes one of your masters. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters.” Paul writes, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free by the blood of Jesus shed at the cross. Walk in that freedom and liberty today.
- Ask the Lord’s help in giving your service exclusively to the Lord and His purposes. Paul writes, “Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness. (Rom. 6:19)
- Consider the advantages of being led by God versus the disadvantages of being led by your addiction. Paul writes, “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Rom. 8:6-8)
- Choose freedom rather than slavery. Paul writes, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)
- Check out our Goal Setting section on ‘Setting the Right Goals in Life’ and begin today to celebrate your victories day by day. God has a wonderful plan for your life. He wants to bless you. If you’ll take the steps you can take to obey Him, He will intervene and ’cause you to triumph’ (2 Corinthians 2: 14)
*We want to pray for you. Please feel free to share your comments with us. We love you and are praying that God will reveal Himself in a might way to deliver you. Be Blessed! MT
ONE LAST CHANCE… by Dr. Paul Chappell
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19–20)
God’s last command is our first priority.—Dr. Don Sisk
Roger Simms was hitch hiking his way home after serving overseas in the war. Flashing the hitchhiking sign to the oncoming car, he hopped in when the car stopped. “Going home for keeps?” “Sure am,” Roger responded. “Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.” “Not quite that far. Do you live in Chicago?” “I have a business there. My name is Hanover.” After talking about many things, Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to witness about Christ to this fifty-ish, apparently successful businessman. But he kept putting it off, until he realized he was just thirty minutes from his home. It was now or never. So, Roger cleared his throat and proceeded to explain the way of salvation, ultimately asking Mr. Hanover if he would like to receive Christ as his Saviour. To Roger’s astonishment the Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road and Mr. Hanover bowed his head and received Christ.
Five years went by, Roger told how her husband had given him a ride when hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me when that was?” asked Mrs. Hanover. “It was May 7, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.” Mrs. Hanover asked, “Was there anything special about that day?” A bit hesitant he replied, “That day I explained the Gospel to him and He received Christ.” Explosive sobs shook her body. Getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.” “And,” said Roger, “Where is your husband, Mrs. Hanover?” She replied, “He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home.”and in Chicago one day Roger decided to look up Hanover Enterprises. A receptionist told him it was impossible to see Mr. Hanover, but he could see Mrs. Hanover. A little confused as to what was going on, he was ushered into a lovely office and found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties. She extended her hand. “You knew my husband?”
Roger never knew May 7 would be Mr. Hanover’s last day on earth. Had he ignored the Spirit’s leading, Mr. Hanover would be spending eternity without Christ. But because he listened to God and allowed God to work through him, he was able to lead Mr. Hanover to Christ!
Many times we as Christians fail to obey God’s call to witness because of pride. “What will someone think?” “What if they reject me?” “I’m not a good speaker.” “There will be other people to tell them.” But Christ made Himself of no reputation and took on the form of man to endure the Cross for us. If He left Heaven’s throne for us, can we not simply talk to someone else about Him?
Do you ever find yourself ignoring God’s leading to witness? We are all guilty of not obeying God’s every impulse. Rather than thinking of what others will think of you, think of what Christ will think if you fail to witness to them. Commit right now to being sensitive to God’s leading in the area of witnessing and let Him use you to tell others of His love.
- We MUST reach all COLORS – “Nations”
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,”
John 11: 52-52 – And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
- Nations (defined) – Nation (defined) – Greek: ethnos, gentile, heathen, nation, people. Race of people.
Mark goes ahead and says: “every creature” – Mark 16: 15
II. We must KEEP the CIRCUMCISION – Baptism
“baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Circumcision (defined) – to cut around, a medical term, change the condition of. It was the mark of obedience to the Abrahamic Covenant from the human side.
“The distinctive feature in Jewish practice, based on the Abrahamic Covenant, is its link with baby-hood (8 days old, v 12). Thus a Jewish child is virtually born into the covenant, as he is into the Jewish community. Circumcision became especially during and after the Babylonian exile. It is interesting to observe that this covenant was already open to others besides Abraham’s descendants (v 12), and conversely, that his descendants by failing to practice circumcision could be cut off from the covenant people (v 14). Circumcision thus symbolized not a social kinship but an… Obedience to God’s commands.
Jesus said: “IF you love me, you will keep my _________________________ ? (Commandments)
Ephesians 2: 11-13 – Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Colossians 2: 9-15 – For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
13And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
The Challenge: As you are reading this article today, decide where you are going to be in God’s plan. If we fail to follow the Lord’s instructions, we fail to reap the abundant life the He has for us. The bottom line is your either fishing or not following. Are you a fisherman?
So reader, may I ask you to get honest with God? Do you want to see people saved? In your home maybe?, in your neighborhood?, in your school? Ok so now that you answered the first key question let me ask you this: “Are you willing to commit to learning how to lead a lost person to faith in Christ?” I promise you if you will decide, take action, and begin to prepare yourself, you will find that Jesus will do exactly what He said He would do and that is to ‘make you a fisher of men! We are dependent on God’s word to do the work, not on our own abilities. God does reward our efforts. He wants us to do the sowing. Isaiah, Chapter 55 says: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
So friend, it’s not on us to do the saving, it’s on us to do the fishing! All I’m challenging you to do today is decide to fish. The sky is the limit to the potential you and I have if we will ONLY TRUST HIM! amen?
I know you join me in a sincere desire to see true Heaven sent revival throughout your area as well as the entire United States of America. As I’ve served in ministry, I have grown even more concerned with the apparent lack of urgency and expectancy most churches and church members exhibit toward God in our present day. Adrian Rogers says: “It is not our job to implore God to send revival, it is our job to permit Him to do so. By our own actions.” The days are over for scheduling a series of meetings and having a covered dish dinner, WE NEED REVIVAL! Not the traditional thing we may do every year on the church calendar, but REVIVAL.
Friend, please allow me to say that according to the word of God, found in Ephesians 4: 11, Evangelists are a gift to the church. As you look at that verse though and on to verse 12, you’ll notice that we are all mentioned! Interesting. Saints, Preachers, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles and Prophets all working together for one common goal: The perfecting of the Lord’s church.
Billy Graham says, 45% of the effectiveness of a revival is preparation, 10% is proclamation or presentation, and 45% is preservation. Your church must prepare (45%)…(1), Pray (2) Bring the lost, (3) Promote. The church must follow up (45%)… (1) Baptize those who are saved, (2) Connect them to a small group, (3)Visit, witness to, and win their lost friends and family members as soon as possible.
May I encourage you to plan two revivals this year? Involve your entire church? Do the preparation? Expect people to be saved? Follow Up? Use a God called evangelist. Dr. Roy Fish said it like this… “Revivals work when people do.” Work a revival. The fruit will be souls saved, a church revived and alive in Christ, and last but not least…a Pastor encouraged.
Let us help you get started today! We are available and set apart to do this work in the local church. Please contact us and let us begin to pray with you about opportunities that God may provide to bring true, Heaven sent, REVIVAL to your church and our area. Would you prayerfully consider us for your next revival?
Phil. 3:12-21 - “12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas Cowboys, was once asked by a reporter, “What makes a champion?” Landry’s answer was power-packed. “A champion is simply someone who didn’t give up when he wanted to.” He went on to say: “Success is not accidental. We learn how to achieve. I’d like to list 4 short steps it takes to be a champion in the field of sports. 1. Faith – believing you can win. 2. Training – the Cowboys work out 4 times a week. They lift millions of pounds of iron each session. They run many miles to win. 3. Goals – all winning teams set goals. 4. You must possess the will to reach the goal you set for yourself. This is probably the most important quality of all champions.” (www.sermoncentral.com)
Did you hear what Landry said? To be a champion, you’ve got to set goals and then have the will to reach the goals that you set. I’m not talking about goals like cleaning off your desk at work, or washing your car, or weeding your flower bed. Those may be worthy goals, but are not significant goals in your Christian life. Cancer survivor Greg Anderson once said, “When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life” (Greg Anderson, www.worldofquotes.com). We’ve got to set some goals in our spiritual life that will move us toward being the champion Christians that God desires for us to be.
Paul gives us some goals to reach for as we pursue an ongoing relationship with God. In this tender letter to the Philippians, he has already encouraged them with his words of praise and rejoicing for their partnership with him in the spreading of the Gospel. He has shared his deep love for them and his desire for them to continue standing firm. He has challenged them to have the attitude of Christ in their relationships w/ one another – to be encouraging, comforting, fellowshipping, and unselfishly looking after the interests of others. And now he comes to this place in chapter 3 of ramping up his message to them to press on in their faith walk with God. As their pastor, he had a deep desire to see them grow and mature in the relationship with God. He wanted them to be victorious, to win the prize, to be champions!
I. THE GOAL OF PERFECTION – v. 12a
Ever hear people say: “Well, I’m not perfect,” or “Nobody’s perfect,” or “You can’t expect me to be perfect,” or “I never said I was perfect”? Usually say this when they are under conviction about some sin in their life and they think this little sentence gives them an excuse.
It is true that no one is perfect in the sense that they live a life of total and complete sinlessness, Only Jesus Himself did that. But the truth is that we are commanded by Jesus in Matt. 5:48 to “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” What is that all about? Why would Paul say in Col. 1:28, “We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone w/ all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ”? Why does God through His Word tell us to be perfect? Doesn’t make sense for Him to tell us to be perfect if it’s not possible? Is He just talking about the perfection that we will have when we get to heaven? Or is this something that we should strive for in this life?
We have to understand what Paul was talking about when he used this word. He’s not talking about sinless perfection. He is talking about a worthy goal that every Christian ought to set for him or herself. This is not a goal for just the “Super Christians.” This is not a goal just for the preacher or staff or the deacons. This is a goal for every Christian.
The word here refers to what Barclay calls a “functional perfection.” It signifies adequacy given for some given purpose. It means full-grown as compared to undeveloped. It means mature in mind as opposed to one who is a beginner in a subject. It means one who is qualified in a subject as opposed to one who is just a learner.
So you see, if we are going to be champions in our Christian lives, we will set the goal of perfection before our eyes and continue to strive to grow in our walk w/ God so that we can have His adequacy for His purpose for our lives. After all, He “took hold” of us so that we could live for Him and serve Him all of our lives. So instead of settling for a stunted, immature Christian life, we will have the goal of growing into a “full-grown” mature Christian. We will have the goal of being mature in our minds, growing in our knowledge of God and obeying Him, doing as Rom. 12:2 tells us and being “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” We will have the goal of being qualified as a Christian, moving to the place where we can handle the “meat” of the Word of God – Heb. 5:11-14.
I love what Oswald Chambers has to say about perfection:
“Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship w/ God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life…I am called to live in such a perfect relationship w/ God that my life produces a yearning for God in the lives of others, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God’s purpose is not to perfect me to make me a trophy in His showcase. He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He wants.” (My Utmost for His Highest, Dec. 2 devotional)
II. THE GOAL OF DISSATISFACTION – v. 13a
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it” – v. 13a. NLT – “No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be…” This is the statement of a great Christian who never permitted himself to be satisfied w/ his spiritual attainments. “A sanctified dissatisfaction is the first essential to progress in the Christian race” (Wiersbe, p. 88).
I read a story of salesman named Harry who came out of his manager’s office w/ a distressed look on his face. Secretary asked him if he had gotten fired. “No, it’s not that bad. But he sure did lay into me about my sales record. I can’t figure it out; for the past month I’ve been bringing in plenty of orders. I thought he’d compliment me, but instead he told me to get w/ it.” Later in the day, the secretary talked to her boss about Harry. The boss chuckled. “Harry is one of our best salesmen and I’d hate to lose him. But he has a tendency to rest on his laurels and be satisfied w/ his performance. If I didn’t get him mad at me once a month, he’d never produce.”
So many of us grow satisfied in our Christian lives b/c we compare ourselves to other people. We can always find someone who is “worse” than we are, someone who is not as mature as we are, someone who is a bigger sinner than we are. If P had compared himself w/ others, there would have been very few people who could have measured up to his level of spiritual maturity. But P didn’t compare himself w/ others; he compared himself w/ himself and w/ Jesus Christ.
If we are going to live like champions in our Christian life, we will honestly evaluate our lives, see the areas that we are coming up short, and strive to grow in those areas.
- It may be that we see that we are coming up short in our study of God’s Word or in our prayer life, and that’s where we need to grow.
- It may be that we see that we are not actively sharing our faith or actively serving God in His church, and that’s where we need to grow.
- It may be that we see that we are giving in to the same sin over and over again, and that’s where we need to grow.
- It may be that we have a secret life that no one knows about, a secret addiction, or a secret relationship w/ someone other than our spouse, and that’s where we need to grow.
- It may be that we are being a stumbling block to others, causing others to question our salvation or their salvation, and that’s where we need to grow.
Any time we become satisfied w/ anything in our lives other than the passionate pursuit of an intimate relationship with Christ, we are on dangerous ground.
- “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” – Ps. 42:1-2
- “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” – Mt. 5:6
III. THE GOAL OF FORGETTING & FORGING – v. 13b-14
If we are going to be champions in our Christian lives, we need to practice some spiritual forgetfulness. Not talking about the impossible feat of erasing all the stuff in our memory banks. Apart from senility or some type of brain malfunction, a mature person can forget what has happened in the past. Sometimes we wish we could, but we can’t. “To forget” means to no longer be influenced by or affected by. It simply means that we break the power of the past by living for the future (Wiersbe, p. 89). We need to set the goal of forgetting the past and forging on into all that God has for us today and in the future.
Too many of us are weighed down by all of our failures in the past. Or we are shackled by the failures of others in our past. Or we can even be distracted by our successes of the past. ALL of the things that are behind us must be set aside as we strive to be the Christian that God would have us be.
CONCLUSION – Some of you today feel as if there is no hope for you, that your past is just too troubled, that you have fallen too many times in the race of the Christian life, that you just can’t make it. But there is One who RIGHT NOW wants to come alongside you and help you make it. Let Jesus guide you in to all truth by His Holy Spirit… Call on Him, He said He would answer you.. and… show you great and might things that you do not yet know! (Jeremiah 33:3) Be Blessed! Mike T.
I don’t know about you, but as I continue this walk of faith, I am daily faced with opportunities. Some are designed to give me an added advantage, some are designed to take me down; others I believe are simply modern day factors that arise from the fact that we live in a sin sick, fallen world that according to scripture is ruled daily by the ‘prince and the power of the air.‘ That being said, in the context of opportunities coming mine and your way seems to be a little more than meets the eye as we travel or ‘sojourn’ through this land. The Bible says that we are to ‘test the spirits’. Consider these words: “But God hath revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2: 10).
The discerning of spirits is the supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to discern the source of a manifestation, atmosphere, underlying reasons of actions. The gift gives the ability to discern and know if it is of God, of the devil, or of man. This is not reading someone’s mind, invoking psychic powers, or human criticising and finding fault. And so, as we go through this life we should learn to put this discernment to work daily so that we walk as wise, not as fools, redeeming the time. It is imperative fellow Christian, that we learn to operate in the gifts that God has given us and to exercise them often so that we may be strong in the Lord and the power of HIS might! “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1John 4: 1).
We will be deceived if we don’t test the spirits because there are so many of them. They come from the spirit of error. A good series of verses to memorize is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-21, and verse 21 applies especially to 1 John 4:1, “Prove [test] all things; hold fast that which is good.” Verse 20 says not to despise prophesying. We’re to put it to the test and hang on to it if it’s good. Satan is both clever and subtle, so you have to be careful.
Always be testing… That’s right! Walk alert, be sober, vigilant, because your adversary the devil lurks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Wake up! Eyes open? Ears on? God has a perfect plan for your life, if we are not careful to navigate according to the leadership and guidance that only comes from the Holy Spirit, we will wind up like a ship with no rudder, landing on whatever shore we wash up on… and now you know, that’s no fun!
“I can’t” virus”
…There is a viral attitude running around in the Christian Body of believers today that I call the “I can’t” virus. It is an attitude of doubt and disbelief, and a lack of trust & faith in God. This attitude is of the devil and is not of God. The devil would have us to think that we are worthless, and cannot do anything, and that God is a God of small things. God wants us to think positively and to have the opposite of an “I can’t” viral attitude, and to have an “I can” attitude.
Paul speaks in this the 4th chapter of Philippians about an “I can do” attitude. He encourages the church at Phillipi that even though they may be going through, that they, through Christ, can do all things. And I believe that God wants us to have that kind of attitude today, no matter what we’re facing. So, the question I would pose to you the people of God today is; “How do I get over the “I can’t” attitude virus?
THREE REMEDIES FOR THE ‘I CAN’T’ VIRUS…
1. Recognize who your strength is…
We need to recognize that our ultimate, all in all strength, is found in God and God alone. Apart from God, we really can’t do anything, but when we get hooked up to the ultimate power source, which is Jesus, we can do all things according to his will and to his purpose. I believe David says “The Lord is my strength & my redeemer.” God is the ultimate strength and source. We’ve got to get hooked up to the SOURCE!!
2. Don’t be afraid.
Far too often we lose faith in God and get an “I can’t” virus due to fear and anxiety. God says in his word ’Do not be afraid. Lo’ I am with thee always, even unto the end.”, and “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” We fear trying new things, so because of fear of the unknown, we’d just rather go on ahead & say “We can’t.”! But we have to realize the POWER God has bestowed upon us. Fear and anxiety are tools of the enemy, and we need to recognize the power God has given us over him. The Bible says, “If you resist the devil, he will flee.”! We have to get over our fears in order to conquer an “I Can’t” virus!
3. You have to BELIEVE that you can do it!
(Talk about the little train that could.) We have to believe that we can do whatever it is that we’re trying to do. God says, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, then you can tell that mountain to move, and it will move.” What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 gives the definition of faith. We have to have faith in things we don’t see yet. You gotta get outta the flesh, the here and now, and see yourself in the future in the spirit. Because God will give you revelation! You gotta begin to talk to your situation, & say, “I know I’m here now, but I won’t always be this way, for trouble, don’t last always, right now, I see it in the spirit, but after a while, I’ll see it in the natural, If I just hold on, don’t give up, don’t let go, and hold out, God is faithful, and he will do that thang! Yes ‘thang’!! You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you! Can I get a witness! I’m going, back to my seat, but before I leave you now, I encourage you, no matter, what you’re facing, you can do it and you can make it, just stay close to God, and he will allow you, to accomplish it for HIS GLORY!
HAVE A GOAL-WRITE IT DOWN: Philippians 3: 13-14 – “Brothers I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the GOAL to WIN the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
The Apostle Paul here shows his gut determination to move forward no matter what the cost he had to pay now. He shows intense focus on the NOW by stating that he will NOT look back but instead will “Press ON”.
BUT ONE THING I DO: Forgetting what is behind Where the Bible says “Forgetting”; Paul used a strong word in the Greek. It means “completely forgetting.” Paul uses an illustration here of a Greek runner completely forgetting his opponents whom he is leading in the race. Just as a runner’s speed is slowed should he think of those behind him, and the thud, thud of their pounding feet, so the Christian’s onward progress is hindered should he dwell on the past full of failures and sins, full of heartaches and discouragements, full of disappointments and thwarted hopes and plans. As long as a Christian has made things right with God and man, he should completely forget the past.
Not only should Christian children purge away the past…, so should parents. If you are a parent, then you have experienced mistakes and failures. Life is made up of mistakes and failures. The people who succeed in life are the ones who overcome their earlier mistakes; they purge their past. Do you remember the Nike advertisement some years ago, a voice came over the television saying, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Those words were spoken by Michael Jordan, by most standards the greatest basketball player ever to play the game. Don’t forget the best Major League baseball teams lose one of every three games. The best batters fail to get hits six to seven times out of ten. One minor league player in fourteen makes it to the big leagues. Still, they consider the chance to succeed well worth the possibility of failing. They say you can’t stop swinging for fear of striking out. If you are going for the goal, banish the perfection obsession and purge away the past!
- Ask God what areas of your life He would like for you to focus in on.
- Write down your thoughts. Yes, take a pen and paper and write them down.
- Make your written thoughts (goals) specific. For example: If you are setting a goal to ‘be a better ______________! Dig deeper…you want to write down the key milestones that will help you achieve your desire.
Now resolve to say: “I will _________________________ .
Yes… Paradise! That is what HE said. Amazing. Greetings this Easter week 2010. As I come to you, I am fresh off of a day of preaching God’s truths and seeing one dear lady be baptized in obedience to Christ command. I have experienced a little of paradise on earth today. This word coming from the Gospel of Luke chapter 23, verse 43. It comes shortly after the Lord had just prayed for us while hanging on the cross. One of the shortest most powerful prayers ever spoken: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Praise God for that prayer. It levels and settles where Jesus stood even in His last moments at the cross, merciful, faithful, determined to deliver salvation that had been so long promised and prophesied. So here we find the two thieves flanking Jesus in a conversation that would be discussed for all time. One on the left and one on the right. One departed this conversation with a blessing, the other a curse. It has been said that they could very well represent our past and future as we come to know Christ as Saviour and Lord. I know personally that before I knew Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I was much like the thief who argued and said: “if thou art the Christ”. “If” denotes unbelief to the core. Hardened in the heart right to the last this sinner would NOT repent. Not one hint of turning to Jesus even in his desperate situation. So much like our world today. We in the blessed United States of America just keep saying “if” with every fiber of our being to the point that we do not want God in anything anymore. We’ve argued our way to a politically correct society that is as dead and hard of heart as this poor unrepentant thief on the cross next to Christ. We’ve NOT turned to Jesus. Our land needs healing and we continue to race through life refusing to turn to God for help. This thief would not turn to God for help. He just continued to refuse the mercy and salvation that God so freely offers.
At his railing, the thief opposite him rebuked him. He freely admitted that they both needed to be where they were, indeed they had deserved their punishment but this man (referring to Jesus) has done nothing! Nada. Many people believe today that Jesus Christ committed sins when He lived here on earth… this is simply not true. Again, you either believe the Word of God, or you don’t. The Word of God says in Hebrews 4: 15 – “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are– yet was without sin.”
And so the conversation moves to the repentant thief’s prayer. Beautiful to say the least. It is the hope of all who will listen to it and hear the words of it and not only experience what it says, but act on what it represents. It is sinful man crying out to a loving God for forgiveness. It is every person who ever realized that they were separated from God in their trespasses and sins. It is simple and to the point; and it is powerful and effective. So what did he say? “Lord… remember me when you come into your kingdom.” That’s it. He said… Lord. What do you call Jesus? So many people know about God but for whatever reason have not come to a place in life where they can call Him… Lord. Lord, remember me. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. So what came next? Check this out… the favor and forgiveness of almighty God: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus made no mistake about it. It was done, now and settled for evermore. This day. Are you in Christ? It doesn’t get any simpler than this conversation at the cross. His word even tells us that ‘whoever’ will call on Him; will be saved. Now that’s good news!
The great thing about living life as a believer in Christ is that even though it’s not ‘if’ difficulties will come… but rather ‘when’ – we don’t have to face anything in this life alone. Now that’s worth thinking about. Jesus said Himself that He would ‘never leave us nor forsake us.’ He also said that He would ‘order the steps of a good man.’ Not good because of anything we can do, but good because we belong to Him. See living your life in Christ gives you the security to know that if you’ve arrived in a tough situation, you can continue through to the other side without having to depend on your abilities to see you through. The God that hung the stars in the heavens is the one who’ll guide you IF you let Him.enough you know, if you haven’t experienced a tough time yet, get ready it’s right around the corner! Now, don’t get me wrong, I fully desire that you and I walk through life and experience victory just like God’s word says we can but… If He said we’d experience tribulation, well friend, we just need to be ready.
So what does God’s word say concerning this matter? Isaiah 50: 10-11 says this: “Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” Ha! That’s a great assurance. In fact, I think you’d agree, it doesn’t get any better than that. So let’s break it down step by step. What can I do when dark times come?
1. I can CONTINUE. He said “let him who walks in the dark…” I must resolve to continue on. Standing still will do exactly that… get you nowhere fast. No need to freeze up, be gripped by fear, or resort to hiding out from your problem or circumstance. It is always better to take a stand, and move forward no matter what. So, I keep on walking. I keep on praying. I keep on thanking God for His goodness. I keep on prasing Him as I allow Him to navigate my life through the best path for me. Trusting in Him alone to carry me to my destiny.
2. I can CONCENTRATE. Especially when I ‘have no light’ I must concentrate on Him. I don’t know if you ever had this to happen, but when I was a little boy we lived near my Grandfather’s farm in a rural area in south Georgia. The summer months were always hot and beautiful but there was the occasional thunderstorm that came through late in the afternoon just before dark. I cannot count the number of times that the lights went out. Amazingly enough all these years later, the thing that sticks out the most about those times is the fact that when the lights went out, my sister and I would be a little scared at first, and usually, my mom or dad would locate the candles and we would all gather and huddle in the basement den of our house around whatever light the candle provided. We had some of the best times when the lights went out! Crazy I know but think about it. We were forced to stop what we were doing, and spend a little quality time together. No noise, no worries, no distractions, and after mom and dad assured us, NO FEAR! So let me ask you, do you think maybe that God could allow a dark time in your life and mine, just so He could spend a little better quality time with us? Just sayin.
3. I can COUNT ON HIM. Notice friend that He also said ‘rely on his God.’ There is a lot of meaning to that word…(v) 10 – the word ‘rely’ is a Hebrew word that means to “lean on for support.” The root of that word is a word translated ‘staff.’ In Psalms 23: 4 – David says, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. This means that ‘they support me’ and ‘they encourage me.’
So what’s the sum? Well, don’t stop moving. Focus sharply on the object of our faith: Jesus Christ. And don’t forget to lean with all your weight, on Jesus. HE is always faithful and would never lead you into a dark place unless… it was to bring you out to something abundant.
In the words of Jesus: “Satan came for what to steal, kill, and destroy; but I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Now that.. is good news!
smörgåsbord [SMOHR-guhs-bohrd] – Swedish for “bread and butter table”!!
The Lord has been overcoming our excuses for years now. Starting with this bunch on the hillside. They had needs, He had the answer. Problem? HE wanted somebody to get involved with Him to get it to the people… What a ‘happy meal’ this was to that enormous crowd on the hillside. They couldn’t focus on their eternal needs until their temporal needs were met. Their bellies cried out so loudly that their spirits could not focus on their need. But Jesus met their physical need and included a prize inside far better. It was the bread of heaven, and a living water thru which they would never thirst again…and He supersized it for all who would accept it that day!
There are several types of hunger that we need to look at and they begin with the deepest and rise to the surface. First of all they had an:
Emotional Hunger! - They were hungry for acceptance, understanding, and unconditional love. They were looking for meaning in life and a purpose for their life. We see the very same hunger in our everyday life today… Self help books, reality TV shows, daily talkshows, motivational seminars and conferences are all best sellers by the thousands as people search for something real. They are ‘without’. Someone, (HELLO CHURCH! ANYBODY LISTENING?) HAS GOT to share the love of Jesus with them…He’s the one who can help them. An entire generation exists today who has not been truly loved. Their are countless thousands and even millions of people who wouldn’t know unconditional love if it ran them over in the middle of the hallway in their own home. They were raised in a home with something less than acceptance and unconditional love, and no wonder they don’t know how to love or be loved. They’ve never seen it, heard it, experienced it, or for that matter really read about it. Scripture is not understandable for the natural man. Hello! The foolishness of preaching is the way to win the lost. Somebody hear me, WE HAVE TO PREACH THE WORD IN TRUTH AND LOVE. No, not you pastor, evangelist, S.S. teacher, Deacon, no, YOU church. YOU Christian. YOU who have professed Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. SPEAK UP. NOW! NOW is the time. Can somebody get this?
The next kind of hunger they experienced is:
Spiritual Hunger! - Hey, can I get a witness here on at least one thing? God is the only one who forgives. Period. There is no way other than calling on the Name of Jesus Christ whereby a person may be saved. Forgiveness is the cry of every person with a hearbeat, they just don’t know it yet. Exactly. Every person ever created has the need for God’s forgivness. Without it, they spend their whole lives in spiritual hunger. Have you missed a meal lately? Do you know what it feels like to go without food? The problem in America today is that we have gotten so fat on food supplies and creature comforts that we’ve actually masked the need for God’s forgivness. That DOES NOT MEAN IT WENT AWAY! ‘Comfort’ is a deciever just like everything else that attempts to blind our sight from God Himself. Church: we need to pray. That God will pull back the veil over the eyes of people and allow them to see the Son. Then, we need to GO… into all of this world and point others to Christ. In His presences is ‘fullness of joy’! Did you hear that? ‘fullness’ of joy. I know you’ve been to the buffet line and gotten so full that you couldn’t do anything but lay down and take a nap. Don’t deny it! Peace comes when we recieve God’s forgiveness, we need to wake up and go tell. I dare you to start today.
Well, enough about ‘them’ now what about ‘us’. Speaking to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ let’s take a look at the:
Miraculous- Is’nt it amazing that even though Jesus was standing right there, He was the one that blessed the loaves and fish but it was the ‘disciples’ who did the distributing? I mean come on, anybody can see that! LOL God can do this Himself, but He chose to partner with little people like you and I to get the greatest job on the planet done… (v. 19-20) He didn’t have to do that, but He chooses to use us. We don’t manufacture the bread, but we are called to be delivery drivers. Be a bread man! Start driving today! In verse 16 we learn one key thing that should overcome every objection out there in the body of Christ today – we say and I hear everywhere I go that ‘it is impossible’, I can’t do this, I’m afraid I’ll say something wrong, etc. etc. etc. NO, it is NOT impossible. It is perfectly normal as a matter of fact for you and I to simply OBEY what we’ve been told to do. Jesus told His disciples in this verse: “you feed them”. Enough said.
So let me ask you today: Are you going? Are you telling? Are you sharing your faith in Christ with others? George Barna says that only 3 percent of professing Christians will share their faith over their lifetime! Not much of an IMPACT is it? 3 percent? So here’s my dare to you: GET UP, GET OUT THERE, TALK TO SOMEBODY ABOUT THE ONE THAT EVERYBODY NEEDS TO HEAR ABOUT… JESUS.