Archive for September, 2012

Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone

“Do You Fish?” We are called to make disciples. Scripture tells us to go into all the world to make disciples. The power of the Holy Spirit is to help us witness and make disciples. Matt 14: 18-19- Jesus tells Peter amd Andrew to follow him. They were fishermen, and God told them that he would make them fishers of men. If youre really gonna follow Christ, you have to leave the boat. *If you are following, you are fishing. Jesus said if you follow me, youre fishing. *If you’re not fishing, you’re not really following. *I must be persistent in casting. Keep on casting. In fishing, sometimes you don’t catch on your first cast. Sometimes you have to find new spots and locations, try different lures and techniques. You have to keep casting. The same is said for being a fisher of men. You never give up. Keep witnessing by testifying of God’s goodness in your life. *To catch fish, you must use the right bait. Use peoples’ interests to pull them in. Connect with people. Form relationships. There is no need to carry your big bible. Your life should reflect the Bible. Be who Christ called you to be and He will help you fish. He wants to use your skills as bait to reach the fish in your pond. * My job is to fish. GOD’S job is to catch! Its also God’s job to clean the fish. We never are called to clean a fish before we catch it. Let people come as they are. Cast. The Spirit of God will change them! * If you wanna catch the big fish, you will need a guide. The Holy Spirit will guide us everyday if we allow Him control. * Dont give up because one got away!

Thirsty Much?

This week has felt so busy. Maybe it has been, but then again, maybe it hasn’t been. All I know is that I woke up this morning feeling a little off kilter, and then when I read my Bible app verse for the day, I understood why. Check it out:

Psalm 42:1- As the deep pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (NKJV).

I realized that my soul is thirsty. Seems that there has not been enough time in the day, but if I’m honest, I haven’t taken opportunity of the time when it has been there. So, for that I repent. But thinking about things now, I recognize the symptoms of thirst in my life this week. Think about how you feel when you are just really thirsty. I don’t mean just needing a drink of water to wet your tongue. I’m talking about a dry, parched throat. Perhaps after a long run, or extreme exertion of your body, in the heat of the day. Can you imagine the deep need to drink water? Not soda, not Gatorade, Powerade, Kool-Aid, or any other of those aids. Not 5 Hour Energy, Worx, or whatever else is on the market. Only water! Can you imagine how good that initial splash of water feels as it hits the back of your throat and slides down into your stomach? To me, it feels like life! Ever wondered why?

So many people don’t drink water now. Scientists have come out with research saying that regular water does not have the restorative electrolytes that people need after much exertion. Hmm. That’s interesting. So, water isn’t good enough. That’s basically what they are saying. We need things outside of water, in order to stay in perfect health and have our bodies operate optimally. Yet, it’s water that can sustain us even in the absence of food; at least for a time. See, I’ve never thought about water and thirst so much as I am right now while I type up this post. The Bible addresses it quite a bit though. Let’s see what it says:

Psalm 143:6- I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah.

Psalm 63:1- O God, You are my God. Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.

Isaiah 29:8- It shall be as when a hungry man dreams, and look- He eats. But he awakes and his soul is still empty. Or as when a thirsty man dreams. And look- he drinks; but he awakes and indeed he is faint…

Isaiah 44:3- For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.

John4:14- but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become to him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.

And these are just a smidgen of the entries containing thirst, thirsty, or some form of the word. I think God is trying to show us something that the world desperately wants to refute.

I can remember once playing golf in the heat of a Mississippi sun on a VERY hot day. The heat index was over 110 degrees. I had long since run out of water, and was standing on the green waiting on my turn to putt out. All of a sudden, my vision began to blur, and I felt very wobbly. My throat was dry and scratchy, and then I felt like I was gonna hurl. We finished the hole, and I ran to the clubhouse.  They sold soda and some great, sugary lemonade, but there was only one thing that I knew that I needed. Water. I drank it like it was the very last time that I would ever have water in my lifetime. I INSTANTLY felt like myself again, better actually.  Our bodies need water because we are made up of water. This world needs water because it is a majority of water. We need Jesus because we are made from Jesus. This world needs Jesus because it was made BY Jesus. Are you seeing the correlation? So, since we were made of Jesus and BY Jesus, going through life without Jesus is the same as playing golf in insane heat indices. It’s crazy!

Why would we choose to thirst when the Living Water is as close as our next breath? Well, it’s because we fill our lives with Gatorade and Lemonade and Powerade, and Kool-Aid. We fill our lives with Coke, Sprite, Sierra Mist, Root Beer, real beer, wine, and everything else. We tell ourselves that these things taste so much better than water; that water is bland and does nothing for us. We listen to media tell us that a glass of wine is good for our hearts, so we overindulge. But in reality, Water is the only thing that can bring us back to ourselves. We say it’s easier to grab a soda, but water is more abundantly available. Same with Jesus. We choose to grab onto power, prestige, and possessions, when Christ is ready to avail Himself. We say that our lives are fine, yet inside our souls are crying out and panting, close to death.  Go back and reread Isaiah 29:8. Let the truth of that verse penetrate your heart. We think that we are drinking. We think that we have enough Christ. We think we are doing our best. But NO! God still sees the same thirst souls that Christ died to hydrate.

Yet Christ is still ready. He is the Ultimate Water. He knows the true chemistry behind water, and the healing restorative effects of it, because He is the water that water was formed after.

We say that once you have the Living Water, you never thirst again. I don’t think that’s accurate, so allow me to edit that statement a bit. Once you taste the true Living Water, your thirst for things other than Him will leave, but your continued thirst for more of Him will steadily increase. It will increase to the point where you don’t feel right when you haven’t spent time with Him. You will feel off kilter, not quite yourself. Your soul will go off like an alarm telling you that it’s thirsty!

This morning I realized that I was thirsty, so I’m drinking. And drinking. And I just wanted to share my morning drink with you.

Until next time, be blessed!

What Now?

Yesterday in our church something real happened. In both services, people saw God. And while I don’t mean it literally, I also sort of really mean it literally, because as we worshiped from the stage, I could see people interacting in a totally different way. People experienced God! We had no sermon. We had a word of prophecy given by our Pastor, but the rest of the service was just people laying themselves bare before God. He was there. If I can say at any time in my life that I’ve felt God, it was yesterday. His Spirit, His very Presence was so fully engaged in our service, we could have stayed there, in that moment, forever. It is a Sunday that we will look back on with great joy, because I believe that it signals the beginning of something completely God centered.  A new season indeed.

But, the question came to my mind yesterday while I was still in the throes of the service. I began to think about some of the other great movements in church history; Martin Luther, Asuza St, the Charismatic Movement; they similarly began the same way. There was an outcry for God. People saw God in a way that they had never seen Him before. The thing is though, that moment when God meets man and man is changed, that moment is not the end. It’s not JUST the culmination of crying out. It’s not the final answer. God doesn’t work that way. When God gives us “God moments”, and I mean really profound moments where He rips apart the veil between heaven and earth and pours out His glory, it signals the beginning. And as with any beginning, we must respond. God can place a new season, or a new opportunity before us 24/7, but unless we respond to it in faith, its for nothing. It is the ushering in of something new. It may not be new to God, but new to us. And we must treat it with the respect that it deserves. There are new prayers to pray, new ways to serve, stronger confessions to be made, deeper depths in worship to find. There is more faith to put into action. There is more required in these moments. We must respond!

Don’t get me wrong. I would love to sit back and reflect forever on the goodness of God on Sunday morning, but my mind is more focused on how we will respond. What happens next? I believe Satan knows that He is powerless in such an environment as yesterday, so he waves the white flag. However, I also think that we give him minor victories when we sit back and dwell on what happened in that moment, instead of using that moment as a launching pad as God intends. See, in my mind, yesterday was not so much a celebration as it was a commissioning for greater works. It was God hyping us up about Him. It was God showing us His beauty, His BIG-NESS, HIS greatness. But it was all for the purpose of sending us out, not keeping us in. And I fear that there were many more movements that were meant to shake the earth for God’s glory, but the people stayed in that moment instead of looking ahead to see what was next.  Now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with rehashing the events. I could talk about it forever, but if talking among ourselves keeps us locked within the four walls of the church, then that was a moment from God that we wasted selfishly. That “moment” is bigger than our enjoyment of God.

There is so much power flowing in an environment like that, but there is so much more power when we take that experience and use it as an impetus to take Christ to the communities, cities, and our nation. It’s why Christ told us to go our into all of the world and tell people about the gospel. The true power of God is released in action. When did we see miracles in the bible? It was when people were out doing, not reflecting. The reflecting is to help us remember, but the doing helps us conquer and it brings the Kingdom from Heaven to Earth! Jesus said that as we went and spread the Gospel, we will be able to heal the sick, cast out demons, and you know the rest. But we can not experience any of this unless we take that moment with God and spread it out among the masses. The world needs to know! We have a role to play in the will of God!

I really believe God is dealing with me on this question: What will I do now? Now that I’ve shown you My Glory and poured out my Love on you, what will you do now? Will you keep it in your heart, hoard the moment, lock the memory away for your reflection when you need a boost? Or will you give it away as freely as I have given it away to you?

The ball is now firmly in our courts. How will we respond?

Well, I believe that we are ready. We are being equipped. The Body of Christ is armoring up, and I believe that God is unleashing us out into the world full of excitement about God, full of Love for people, and full of righteous fury over the ground that we have allowed Satan to hold for so long. It’s time to take back ground, peeps. This is the beginning! A new season.

Until next time, be blessed.

Quick Notes on Seasons

Ok, I so rarely ever do this anymore, but bear with me. Sometimes I feel God speaking directly to me, but I don’t share what He says; sometimes it’s just for fear that I’m really hearing from Him. This morning, I believe that I have, and I want to share it since I can’t seem to go back to sleep. Perhaps this is just for me, then again, maybe it’s for someone else out there as well.

So, we know what Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth” (MSG)

Seasons. There is a season for everything that happens on the earth. And just as there are natural seasons,(in America we are shifting from summer into fall, thank God!!), in the spiritual realm, there are seasons as well. This is what God showed me about 20 minutes ago as I was trying to get back to sleep after a brief sick spell:

I began to see a rundown of so many people that I had known in the past, and know presently. I saw all of the circumstances around our friendships and associations, I felt regret at the relationships that had fallen away, and I enjoyed the memories of the good old days as they surfaced in my mind. The thing is, God didn’t present these people to me on a reel, it was more along the lines of the people being unpacked and packed from storage bins- like clothing. I thought it was odd, but after a few moments, the image would fade and be packed and folded tightly away. This was my vision/dream.

Here is the meaning. Just as we change our clothing as the seasons shift, so do many things shift in our lives based on seasons. People whom we were once family with can become as a distant memory. Jobs that we feel are the right thing for us suddenly become cramped and unfulfilling. A path that we just knew was our destiny becomes more of a joke. i think what God was showing me is that it’s ok. In certain seasons, it’s okay to be friends with someone, while in another season, it’s not. God does different things in variable levels of visibility in varying seasons. Just because you saw God clearly during summer doesn’t mean that you will see Him as clearly or constantly in the fall. Do not mistake this to mean that God is still not active. Remember, in our last post I talked about God being a constant gardener. He is always busy in our lives, but at certain junctures, and certain seasons, He steps back a bit in order to stretch us for the next season to come. Every season won’t feel exciting and fresh. Some will feel downright depressing, but faith in God tells us that we have seasons of joy to sustain us through the seasons of winter in our lives. We experience the great joys and peaces in summer so that when fall comes, and things in our lives fall away during the pruning process, that our faith is still unwavering in the plan of God.

So, it’s alright when God packs up our comfort and places it in a box. It’s ok when God packs away friendships and relationships, because He is also unpacking new ones for you. It’s ok when God packs away your old hopes and dreams, because He is unpacking newer and more exciting ones than you can ever imagine. It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s because God loves you so fervently that He sends you through seasons, because if we are not growing, we are declining. Don’t fret. Let this word encourage you, whomever you are out there.

Now, I’m gonna try and go back to sleep. Until next time, be blessed….and get some sleep for me. lol.

Being “In Christ” by John Piper

Happy Saturday, peeps. I was reading my devotional for today from a John Piper reading plan that I use on my YouVersion Bible app. It is some pretty hardcore, in your face truth, so I wanted to share it with you all. I  hope you all are blessed by it.

THE STUPENDOUS REALITY OF BEING “IN CHRIST JESUS

Being “in Christ Jesus” is a stupendous reality. It is breathtaking what it means to be in Christ. United to Christ. Bound to Christ. If you are “in Christ”, listen to what it means.

1. In Christ Jesus, you were given grace before the world was created. 2 Tim 1:9- “He gave us grace in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

2. In Christ Jesus, you were chosen by God before creation. Ephesians 1:4- “God chose us before the foundation of the world.”

3. In Christ Jesus, you are loved by God with an inseparable love. Romans 8:38-39- “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

4. In Christ Jesus, you were redeemed and forgiven for all your skins. Ephesians 1:7-” In Christ, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

5. In Christ Jesus, you are justified before God and the righteousness of God in Christ is imputed to you. 2 Cor.5:21- “For our sake, God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

6. In Christ Jesus, you have become a new creation and a son of God. 2 Cor. 5:17- “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Gal. 3:26-“In Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God through faith.”

7. In Christ Jesus, you have been seated in the heavenly places even while He lived on earth. Ephesians 2:6-“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

8. In Christ Jesus, all the promises of God are YES for you. 2 Cor. 1:20-” All the promises of God find their YES in Christ.”

9. In Christ Jesus, you are being sanctified and made holy. 1 Cor. 1:2-“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus.”

10. In Christ Jesus, everything you really needed will be supplied. Philippians 4:19-” My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

11. In Christ Jesus, the peace of God will guard your heart and mind. Phil. 4:7-“The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

12. In Christ Jesus, you have eternal life. Romans 6:23-“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

13. And in Christ Jesus, you will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord. 1 Cor. 15:22-” For as in Adam all dies, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” All those united to Adam in the first humanity shall die. All those united to Christ in the new humanity rise to live again.

How do we get into Christ?

At the unconscious and decisive level, it is God’s sovereign work: “From God you are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Cor. 1:30.

But at the conscious level of our own action, it is through faith. “Christ dwells in our hearts “through faith.”‘ Eph. 3:17. “The life we live in union with His death and life ‘we live by faith in the Son of God‘” Gal 2:20.

This is a wonderful truth. Union with Christ is the ground of everlasting joy, and it is free!
Take some time, read these verses and let it all soak in! These are wonderful truths to store away in our hearts! Until next time, be blessed!

A Process of Perfecting

“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.: Phil 1:3-6 (MSG)

This will be just a shorty today. I’ve been under the weather, hence no blogs. I’m feeling a little better, and saw this verse this morning on my phone. I had to jot down just a few thoughts on it. I hope it blesses you.

Here’s the thing, we often wonder if God is really doing anything in our lives, if God is really perfecting us, and if so, why don’t we really see a difference? Sound familiar? For me, I spent the longest time praying to God for His purpose to be revealed. I mean, even as the years passed by and nothing happened on the preaching front, even as I became angry with God for seemingly not doing anything on my behalf, even as I sang on stage harboring doubts about God. I felt like God wasn’t doing anything in me, or for me. And I’m just being honest here. I think if we all look in the mirror, we all have those times where we feel like God is against us, yet Paul fully and completely discounts that thinking. And these verses also tell us that there is never a time when God is NOT working through us, in us, or for us.

Our perfecting, which begins by us being made into a new creation at salvation, continues until the day that Christ returns. This means that everyday, God’s faithfulness wakes us with an intent to continue growing things within us that will transform us daily into more and more of a direct reflection of His Son. And Paul says that he has no doubt! Faith is a really funny thing. We feel it so strongly when we are worshipping with fellow believers in a church service, and this is important. It’s a recharging. But I would argue, that the faith that we muster when we are alone is the faith that really sustains us towards doing the greatest work that God has for us. It’s why digesting and ingesting the Bible is so important. Even if it’s just finding a verse and meditating on it, it gives the further fuel for God to continue His working in our lives. The fact that we are being perfected day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, should be an exciting thing for all of us. To me it means that as long as I have breath in my lungs, God is working in me for His glory. The work that He begun at salvation is daily becoming more and more tangible. Please remember that Hebrews tell us that what is seen was made from that which is unseen. So the results of God’s working within us will often be invisible to us, until a singular moment when we see the results of that God has been doing. Think of it as a seed. Beneath the soil, roots are growing, sinking deeper and deeper into the soil. The seed is absorbing crucial nutrients. We often don’t concern ourselves with this part, but when we see that first bud shooting from the ground, our hearts rejoice.

It’s the same thing in our lives. Behind the scenes, God is growing our roots, increasing our capacity to receive His presence and understand the new life within our veins. But we go about our lives not feeling any differently, focused more on the mire of everyday life. At the appropriate time, God will force the bud to the surface, and we will see the results of all of the quiet time with God. We will see the results of all of the crying out to God in private. We will see the results of all of the time spent prostrate before God on Sunday mornings. Simply put, if nothing else produces results in our lives, God does! His results are the lasting kind that can take us from periods of lack to periods of plenty; and I’m not merely talking about financial plenty.

This work that Paul is talking about, this perfecting, when you finally see the results, it will astound you. For me, it happened on a Sunday morning, when despite my mind furiously working on what I lacked, my spirit man was rejoicing in God for all that He has provided, and every thought to the contrary was immediately silenced. Growth! A bud! Progress! Hallelujah! And while this growth will look different in the lives of each one of us. we will see it! And then when Jesus finally comes back, He will see Christians who look just like Him, as a result of a lifetime of perfecting, blooming, pruning, and more blooming. God is a constant gardener, and our lives are merely the soil for His seeds.

So, there we are. Until next time, be blessed!

Yeah, I’m a Hedonist!

John A. Piper has written a book entitled Desiring God that I started reading a while back, but put down. I’m probably going to pick it back up again here soon, because I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit lately. The whole idea of a Christian Hedonist intrigues me. When I first picked up the book, I guess I wasn’t really in a thinking mode, because a lot of it went directly over my head. The part that sticks out to me though, is the idea that I’m about to share with you. I welcome y our thoughts as well, because I’m going on my own derivative of his definition. So bring on your comments. 

 

 
According to Mr. Piper, a Christian Hedonist is one who takes his full pleasure or delight in the Lord. This is a person who is not mainly concerned with what God can do, but merely one who is so caught up and enraptured by the bigness of God, his immaculate nature, His unfailing love,His eternal faithfulness and devotion to His creation, that their time is spent reveling in those facts rather than constantly begging and pleading with God to do this, that, or other.  Now, we usually think of a hedonist in worldly terms as one who is hell bent on obtaining and pursuing pleasure in whatever form the world provides it; be it drugs, sex, or alcohol.  The world provides a lot of these avenues. Whatever it is that we think we need to have pleasure, we can find it on television, on the Internet, or on the countless liquor stores that fill our cities. We can find it on street corners, growing in yards illegally, and elsewhere. That’s what the world specializes in. But,that’s also what God specializes in. I mean, think about it, all of these vain pursuits lead to destruction. Furthermore, they are only horrible substitutes for the ultimate delight- God!

 

 
We were created to have communion with Him, and as a result of sin, we have spent the entirety of our existence trying to make up for the intense need that sin leaves in our lives.  So we fill it with more sin. Or, we fill it with cable tv.Or, we fill it with education or professional successes. But at our core, we want God. We need God. Anything else goes against our wiring. We were created to delight in the Lord.

 

The verse “delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” used to stump me. I wondered how to “delight” in anything! I mean, there’s not really a blueprint, or any recommended actions that go along with that edict. Delight in the Lord. Ok…how do I do that? Over the last few days, it has really hit home.  When I delight in the Lord, I am actively worshiping Him with my whole heart and soul. I am recognizing my need and addiction to Him. I am recognizing that apart form Him, I have no being or existence. When I delight in God, I am striving to see His beauty in everything, to notice His workings across all of creation. And because of this, my lips and my soul sing a constant hymn of praise and awe to Him. I run after God, because He is my pleasure. Being in His presence is my pleasure. And in that way, I become a Christian Hedonist!

 

 
So if we delight ourselves in God, He will give us our desires, right? Here is the cool thing. When God becomes our addiction, our primary source of pleasure; when delighting in God becomes our soul purpose and activity on a daily basis, our heart’s desires become HIS heart’s desires. We become molded into the image of Jesus and are now completely one with the Father. The things that we think we need to be happy all melt away in the glorious light of the Trinity.

 

 
Would you dare become a Christian Hedonist? I would. When is the last time that you took time OUTSIDE of worship during church to recognize all that God is, all that He does, and how perfect His love and creation is? I challenge you to chase after Him with a fiery passion, and delight yourself in Him. The pleasure that He provides is worth more than anything that the world can ever offer.

 

 

 

Until next time, be blessed!