Looking down at my meal as I got ready to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner I saw a full plate. As I looked at my plate I reflected on how much it was a representation of my life; full. What makes the plate of my life full is not the things of this world but the presence of God in my life and family. Our lives are full when we have a hunger for God and have a desire to spend time with God. Our lives are blessed when we understand that God’s Word brings such strength and power to our day and that we recognize our time in prayer as the most important time of our day. Our plates are full when we realize that we are fortunate to have an extended family that worships with us, prays for us and goes with us through the difficult seasons of life. Our plate is full when we understand that the most important thing that we can leave for our children is a spiritual legacy. A legacy that is built on the powerful name of Jesus and the absolute necessity of being filled with and living a Spirit led life. Do you have a full plate? Don’t look at your material possessions, but what really matters, your relationship with God. If you have a life that knows about Jesus and His work on Calvary, your plate is full.
I need new shoe strings. It’s not that I can’t afford them, it’s just that I haven’t taken time to go to the store. So, I deal with frayed shoe strings that get in tangled knots. Instead of taking a few minutes to make the purchase I find myself spending extended time trying to untangle the knots. What a picture of life. There are so many aspects of life that become complicated, not because God doesn’t have the solution but because we refuse to bring our difficulties to Him. Instead of saying, “God I’ve got a mess or God, this is broken,” we sit for hours, weeks and months trying to untangle, get the “knots” out, by our self. Jesus said, “come to me all who labor and are heavy-laden or overwhelmed and I will give you rest,” in essence just give it to me. How many times do we find ourselves wanting to talk it out with a friend or even worse, trying to fix it our self. Our lives will have areas that get frayed and there will be complications. Just like the solution to my shoe strings is to go to the store and buy a new pair of strings, the solution for our tangled and knotted messes is Jesus. Have complicated situations in your life that’s bringing stress? It’s time to simplify, take them to Jesus. He specializes in taking care of knots and tangled situations.
Moments of opportunity. If we miss them we may miss a life changing experience. They don’t come in neon lights, they come in common every day moments. They come disguised as an opportunity to make a difference in a life, to impact your child with an encouraging word, to take your marriage to a new dimension, to see a dream come to life or to take your faith and spiritual life to another level. Be careful not to miss your moment. Elisha hands king Joash a bundle of arrows and says, “strike the ground.” Joash, oblivious to the opportunity, strikes three times and misses a chance to utterly destroy Israel’s enemy. Agrippa, hearing Paul’s persuading testimony, says, “Paul, you’ve almost persuaded me to be a Christian.” As far as we know, Agrippa never became a Christian, he misses his moment. You never know when a moment or a season of opportunity is coming to an end. It calls us to live with spiritual awareness every day. Too many times we find an excuse instead of opportunity. We look at moments and think it’s too expensive or difficult but it may be too expensive or costly not to act. The woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years hears that Jesus is coming to town. Rather than making excuses, reasoning why she shouldn’t, she chooses to seize her moment of opportunity. In that one moment, her entire life is changed. May I suggest we follow her lead. Seize your moment!
Leaves were swirling and branches breaking. Looking in our back yard our grill cover had blown off and our Adirondacks were scattered. Running errands, we saw lawn chairs that had blown across the street, construction signs tipped over and debris flying in all directions. Long before a wind advisory warning was ever issued it was obvious that the wind was blowing with a mighty force. As I witnessed the impact of the wind, my mind immediately went to the verse found in John 3, “the wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” It made me think, when God begins to fulfill the promise that He will pour His Spirit on all flesh, it will be obvious. We won’t have to create it with lights and haze. We won’t need the latest spin from Bethel or Hillsong. It won’t be based on the charisma and personality of a man. It will be obvious. People will stream to altars; baptismal tanks will be disturbed regularly and the outpouring of the Spirit will be so impacting and life changing that it will be obvious that people’s lives have been overwhelmed by God’s Spirit. When God sends the wind, it will be uncontrollable, overwhelming, and there will be no need for a wind advisory to let us know it arrived.
When it comes to praying and understanding how God answers prayers there are two principles that we must keep in focus. Faith and endurance. Faith causes us to pray. Faith believes, ask and dreams that anything is possible with God. Faith knows God delivered a nation out of bondage in one night, that God parted the Red Sea, saved the Hebrews and destroyed the Egyptian army. Faith knows God shut the mouths of lions and stopped fire from burning three Hebrew men. Faith knows that Jesus healed the sick, opened the blinded eye and deaf ear, gave the lame the ability to walk and fed 5000 with five loaves and two fish. Faith knows God brought a young girl, a young man and Lazarus back from the dead. Faith knows that in our situation that God can heal, deliver, change anything or anyone and answer any prayer we pray. Endurance is the ability to wait. Endurance is the ability to not lose faith, get bitter or angry when the answer doesn’t come in our time or the way we expected. Endurance never doubts or wavers. Endurance stays the course when it hurts, when it gets hard or when we don’t understand. Endurance prays, prays and prays some more. Endurance never gives up. Endurance always believes. Endurance says there is no other option. Ask God to put faith and endurance in your spiritual life and you will go from, “can God, to God can!”
In the prophet Haggai’s day, God had brought His people back from failure and difficult situations. Instead of focusing on what God had done and the possibility, many of the people could only focus on “what was” and on their failures. Haggai’s message was, “the end was going to be greater than the beginning.” To someone today you need to know your best days are in front of you! But it’s a choice. How you view your situation is so important. We have a choice. Do we talk about the past, the problems and the pain? Do we give more power to the failure or the Father? Do we keep grace from covering us, mercy from mending us and forgiveness from freeing us? Do we live in the old house or move to the new? If we move to a new house mindset we see the possibilities in Jesus. In the new house there’s a God view instead of a guilt view. In the new house faith starts speaking, the gifts start working and we start living in the Spirit. In the new house there’s a different countenance on our face, different attitude in our spirit and conversations that springs from our heart. Your end is supposed to be better than your beginning. It’s time for someone to move into a new house.
Back to School Service. It’s the day we take time out as a church community to pray over our students. A prayer cloth is given to each student to remind them that God is surrounding them. We hope they leave today knowing that they can be a person of great influence in their school. Though the challenges are great, the God that is with them is greater. This time that our kids are living in reminds me of Daniel. He was a young man, in a foreign land, that faced amazing adversity yet Daniel 6:3 says, “Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him.” What an amazing statement about this young man. In the midst of a dark world, devoid of God, facing the temptation to blend in, Daniel elected to stand out. He was a leader among leaders. While many around him were talented, gifted and intelligent, Daniel stood out because of His excellent Spirit. Where did it come from? His time spent in devotion with God which created a strong faith in God. To every student, stand out! Stand out by having excellent character. Stand out by going the extra mile. Stand out by having the best spirit. Stand out by living out your faith. Stand out and see where God might take you.
Your heart matters. In fact, God is more concerned about your heart than anything else. While I’m not here to diminish the importance of living Godly and Holy, it is the inside that God looks at and it is the inside that will produce a true Christ like lifestyle. In 2 Chronicles 30, Hezekiah’s heart is to bring His people’s lives and families back to God. The problem is no one is qualified to bring them to repentance and they had missed the Passover. Hezekiah’s hunger is a month late and would have to be performed by an unclean person. God has a dilemma. He has people who have hungry hearts but don’t have it all together. Hezekiah confesses the errors of his people and asks God, “will you hear our prayers, will you heal us?” In one of the more amazing moments in the Bible the scripture said that “the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people (2 Chron. 30:20).” What a moment of grace! Grace that is still available today. Five husbands and living with a sixth man, not a problem. Caught in the very act of adultery, not a problem. Thief and murderer breathing your last breath, not a problem. Grace showed up at a lonely well, at the screams of judgmental accusers and at the cross of a guilty man. Need grace today? Give Him an honest heart and His grace will show up.
The Dukan Diet. The Atkins Diet. The South Beach Diet. The Keto Diet. Weight Watchers. Jenny Craig. Nuitrisystem. So many diets, so many options all because so many of us have become what we eat. Too much sugar, too much starch, too many carbs, the list could go on and on. Our lives have been consumed by diets and fads all because of the fact that we simply need to be more disciplined and need help. Really it should be pretty easy, stay away from processed foods, sugars and eat a lot of stuff that comes from trees and the ground. What is true of the flesh is also true in the Spirit. Paul says all that is of the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Jesus said they that hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be fed. He calls Himself the “Bread of Life” and says that “all that come to Him shall never thirst again.” Basically, God says if we want to be spiritually healthy, if we want to have a right heart that it takes staying away from the world, pursuing Him, reading His Word and spending time. Getting worldly, carnal or feeling spiritually drained? Maybe it’s time to go on a diet. Get in His Word, get on your knees and get refilled with His Spirit.
Throughout the Bible we see the eagerness of God to be with His creation. It was God that came down to heaven in the cool of the evening to be with Adam and Eve. It was God that initiated the conversation with Moses about building a Tabernacle in the Wilderness and when it was finished, God that came down in power the moment it was completed. Solomon and his builders put the final touches on Solomon’s Temple and before there is a dedication or a festival, God comes down with such power that the priest could not stand and the pillars of the Temple shook. Over and over we see a simple principle. Build something for God to live in and He will come. The principle remains the same today. Build our lives, have a hunger and thirst for God, and He will come. He longs to dwell in us. We are called “the Temple of the Holy Spirit,” (1 Corin. 6:19) which means that He longs to dwell in us. Simply make room, build a place in your life for Him and He will come.
Under Construction. It’s a sign that we hate to see when we’re traveling. Whether we’re headed to work or on a trip we know it means long waits and rude drivers. See the sign on a building and you know there’s temporary lights and walls and plenty of dry wall dust. While we hate to see those “Under Construction” signs, they are a sign of life and progress. It means something is growing, there is expansion going on or improvements being made. While we hate the process, we love the results. Whether a road with smooth pavement, a new shopping environment, or spacious addition, they all bring expectation and excitement. We’re willing to except that in real world life, we’re often less accepting when it comes to the human factor, but the fact is, we are all under construction. In reality, we should all have signs, maybe t-shirts, that say, “pardon our mess, under construction.” God hints at it in Jeremiah 29:11 when He says, “I know the plans I have for you.” Plans, that means a project, that construction is coming! Paul puts it another way in Philippians 1:6, “He who has begun a good work in you shall perform it.” What is Paul saying? You’re not finished yet. You are in process. So, pardon my mess, put on a hard hat and help, stop judging me in the middle of my construction. God is in the middle of making something awesome.
There are two moments in the Bible that scare me. It’s not when Pharaoh is pursuing Moses, David is facing Goliath or the Hebrew Children are being thrown into a fiery furnace. The first moment that grabs my attention is found in 1 Kings 22 when Josiah comes to the throne and looks to restore the love for God in his nation. As the priest are going through the Temple they discover a scroll, the Word of God. What we learn is that for years, likely generations, they had been operating in ritual and tradition. They had simply learned how to go through the motion, operating without Gods Word. The second moment that overwhelms me is Jeremiah 3:16; it is the last time the physical Ark of the Covenant is mentioned. Tradition says that Jeremiah was so concerned about the state of his nation and their lack of passion for God that he took the Ark and hid it in a cave. If true, that means for over 600 years those who ran the temple operated without the presence of God. Operating in ritualistic and judgmental tradition without the presence of God. That scares me. What happened in these two moments can happen in any life or society. We cannot afford to ever learn how to do church, live for God without His Word or His presence. Traditional, ritualistic and performance-based religion is the greatest danger we face. Ask God to give you a hunger to know Him.
Reading the book of John, a phrase caught my attention in the second chapter. It was the story about the wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle. What caught my attention was the phrase, “Jesus was invited also…” It made me wonder, how many events had taken place where people didn’t invite Jesus. And why hadn’t He been invited? Were people unaware of who He was? Did people feel like He was irrelevant? Maybe He wouldn’t be interested in attending. We don’t know the scenario, the names or relationship but what we do know is someone said, “lets invite Jesus.” What a novel idea. Inviting Jesus. Whether a wedding, a day at the office, into a marriage or any other of life’s events, inviting Jesus is a good idea. Little did the bridegroom know he was going to miscalculate the number of guest and face potential embarrassment. The good news, he had invited Jesus and whether its turning water into wine, healing a blinded eye or forgiving sin, Jesus can take care of the problem. Let’s take the example of this nameless bridegroom and invite Jesus into the everyday events of our life. Who knows when we might need Him and if He’s in the room, anything can happen.
We often look at the failures of well-known people to feel better about ourselves. But if we feel good about the wrongs of others, we don’t truly know ourselves. For example, the Bible doesn’t tell us about the sins of David to weaken our sense of moral alarm, but to put all of us on notice. Though we have accomplished much in Christ, we must always be on guard. Satan is always looking for an opportunity to take us down. When we see the failures of others, it should cause us to be more aware of our own weaknesses and need for the mercy and grace that only comes through Christ. Only when we acknowledge our weakness do we become dependent on the strength of our God. One man said, “the Bible is just like a mirror. It shows me the need of my heart, for in it we see an accurate image, a portrait of me–every part.” As we continue to work on our lives from the inside out, take time to reflect on your life, it’s strengths and weaknesses and then pray that God will help you humble yourself before Him and ask Him to be the strength in your weakness.
Weeds. You don’t have to plant them, water them or care for them in any way. They just grow; anywhere, anytime, anyplace. I planted a garden and now I’m attempting to grow a garden. I’ve pulled weeds, tilled soil, bought garden soil, planted plants and kept them watered. This week I walked out to my garden and in just a few days the weeds had grown larger than my plants. What I’ve come to understand is that I have to be intentional about my garden. I have to regularly water it, pull the weeds and protect from insects and animals. What’s true in the natural is also true in the spiritual. It takes nothing for the cares of life, temptation and sins take over our life. They just show up. To have a spiritual life we must be as meticulous as we are with a garden. The soil of our soul must be enriched with the atmosphere of prayer and praise. We must plant the Word of God in our heart and keep it in our heart. David said, thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you. We must be committed to staying filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the power that fuels our spiritual growth and brings out the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit. Be intentional, as Paul said in Ephesians 5:18, “be filled with the Spirit.”
We celebrate a few brave families today. We don’t know most of their names. They had a passion for freedom, to worship God freely and to live in liberty. They longed for their children to experience a life that they didn’t have. They sold their homes; kept only their most valuable possessions. They gambled that the risk would be better than the routine. Though they weren’t sure of where they were going or what they would face, something said it would be better than where they were. We need the spirit of those early settlers to invade our culture once again. People who are desperate enough to make changes and take risk to see that the future is different than the present. People who long for a move of God’s Spirit. People who will believe in prayer and are willing to go on a journey until they see an outpouring of God’s Spirit as it was in the book of Acts. A revival like Jeremiah Lanphier brought to New York City in 1857. A spirit moving like the one that happened in Azusa California in the early 1900’s that was so powerful that Time Magazine called it one of the 100 most significant events of the 20thcentury. God, give us a hunger to be free again. As the song says, “Do it Again.”
The purge. It happens in the Hudson home a couple times of year. We go through the entire home and we purge the closets, cabinets and garage. We get rid of stuff that we haven’t worn, stuff we haven’t used and things that have become obsolete or broken. Sometimes it’s hard. There is sentimental attachment. Sometimes we struggle because we remember what we paid for some things instead of what they’re worth. Regardless, each time there is a purge a lot of stuff leaves the house. After the purge there’s a since of clarity. We feel like we’ve streamlined life. There’s a sense that we’ve made it easier to access the things of value and importance.
David had a purge moment. It was the moment he realized he had things in his life that had taken him far from God. When Nathan brings an awareness to David about the junk and clutter in his life David goes to purging. We find it in Psalms 51. Here are some of the purging phrases David uses. Have mercy. Wash me. Purify me. Create in me. Restore to me. Deliver me. After the purge David’s life is different. He is broken and humble. He is a contrite man of worship. His trust is more solid and his faith stronger. Let me encourage you, do a summer purge. Get rid of junk in your heart, spirit and attitude. You will be amazed by how clean and streamlined your life will feel.
The calendar says it’s still spring. The activities and heat say it’s summer. Heat and humidity are here and plants and grass are already gasping for water. What we need is a storm. A gully washer. A downpour. Though we enjoy the fun of the sun, we need the storms. Without storms we don’t get the necessary rain. Storms slow us down. Storms bring clouds to shade us from the sun, breezes that purge the dead limbs, and water to the areas that are in drought. What is true in nature is true in the spiritual. We enjoy the good times, when troubles are few and life is light. But then God sends a storm. Something that rocks our world, slows us down and brings us to our knees. Not always what we want, but often what we need. Without storms we can burn ourselves out. Without storms, areas in our lives that need a purge, would never be cleaned out. Without storms, the refreshing of God’s Spirit that brings our hearts back to life, wouldn’t come. Going through a storm? Be thankful. He see’s something in our lives that is dying. Something in our heart or soul that needs watered. He allows a spiritual rain, disguised as a storm, to come into our lives. He sees we need a pause. A rest. A time of refreshing. He’s the God in the storm and when it’s time He’ll say, “peace be still.”
Pot holes, chug holes, crater. Does it matter what we call them? They seemingly are a part of rites of spring in central Indiana. We try to avoid them. We swerve. We dodge. Invariably though, we hit one. There is no sound like the thud of tire hitting a pothole. Hit one and you’re praying that the hubcap stayed on and your tire isn’t flat. But a pothole does more. It damages the balance of the tire and knocks your car out of alignment. Hit one and in a moment a round tire is an egg making the ride anything but pleasant. Hit enough and when you let go of the wheel, your car can make a left or right turn without you even turning it. So, what do we do? We get to our local tire store or mechanic.
Much like central Indiana and potholes our spiritual lives have seasons, moments in life that can knock us out of balance or alignment. We’re traveling along and suddenly, bang, we hit a hard spot in life. Unexpectedly our life is out of order and our walk with God is going the wrong way. Again, the question, what do we do? Just like you would take your car to get repaired, we get our self to church. We get to an altar. Hit your knees. Cry out to God. Get realigned and refilled with the Spirit. Be confident. God can realign you and get your life in balance.
Garden hoses. They are made of multiple materials, come in any color you can imagine, and depending the length, can cost anywhere from $10 – $150. The thing is, no matter the color or the material, unless it is hooked up to a water source it doesn’t have much worth. Attached to a water source it fills buckets, gives water to flowers, keeps grass green and washes cars. A garden hose is not the source, simply the conduent. It is an iconic symbol of a Christian life. We live and breathe, not by our own ability, but God in us. To live an effective and successful Christian life, to have a marriage and home that is filled with calm and to be a person who impact others with the gospel we must be people who allow God to flow through them. It’s only when we are attached to Him, being a conduent that he flows through, that we have impact. Regardless of how talented, how distinguished our degree or impressive we look, we are simply an unattached garden hose if we don’t have His Spirit flowing through us. How do we do it? It happens when we ask God to get us in alignment. We must be aligned with His Spirit. His will. His plan. Get attached to the Spirit and let Him flow through your life.
It appears that spring has finally sprung. The grass is turning green. Flowers are beginning to pop and trees are starting to sprout their leaves. Winter is gone and it’s time to get out in the yard. It’s time to trim some trees, prune some branches, move some plants and plant new flowers. It’s time to freshen things up, clean some things out and get ready for the warmth of a new season. What if we did some spring cleaning in our spiritual life? What if we trimmed back some of the things that have gotten out of control in our lives? Pruned back some negativity and attitudes so new growth could bloom? What if we allowed God to move some things out of our hearts and put some new things in? Imagine what our hearts and souls might look like? David understood he needed a spring time. After a hard season in life, David’s prayer was, “create in me a clean heart, renew in me a right spirit.” What was he saying? Make my life happy, joyful and invigorating again. What a great prayer! Spend some time over the next few weeks in your devotional time thinking about what you want life to look like. Then as you are on your knees and in the Word, ask God to make you new again.
For the first time this Spring the windows were up. It was a little muggy but the smell of fresh air made the tradeoff worth it. Sitting on the couch I noticed a shift. The mugginess in the air is gone and there is a slight chill. A few hours later the temperature had dropped drastically and a cold rain was falling. In just a few hours there had been a dramatic change in the atmosphere. Know this, what happens in the natural can happen in the Spirit. A handful of fishermen are fighting a fierce storm. In a moment they find the cause is a prophet running from God. Jonah says toss me over and things will change, initially they resist, but as the storm rages they have no choice. They toss Jonah over and in an instant the seas calm. Paul and Silas, sitting bruised and beaten in a jail, not exactly knowing how they had got there. It’s dark, they’re in pain and in chains but a song service changes the atmosphere and suddenly they are freed from their prison walls. Jesus hangs on a cross. One moment men are mocking and gambling for His garment, but with the words, “it is finished,” the atmosphere changes. The skies grow gray and the earth quakes and those mocking suddenly are saying, “surely He was the Son of God.” Take hope! Regardless of what your circumstance looks like at this second God can change the atmosphere in a moment.
Obstacles; they are defined as something that obstructs or hinders progress. Every person faces obstacles, situations that obstruct or hinder our progress. Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden became a part of our DNA and as a result every person is entangled and bound by sin. Regardless of how hard we try to live well, we fail. The obstacle called sin is not something we could overcome, it took a Savior, His blood and a cross. Only Jesus can free you from the obstacle of sin. The second obstacle every person faces is the obstacle of circumstances that brings to light or challenge our faith. These obstacles appear to be overwhelming, but if we ask for God’s help He will make a way of escape. This escape involves our participation, God makes a way but we must be willing to walk through in acts of faith. The final obstacle that every person faces is the obstacle of our own mind. We hear God promises but we live in doubt. God has promises, successes and blessings far beyond our imagination, the problem is they require us to believe, to act upon them, to live and walk in faith and in the Spirit. Today, I want you to know if you will trust and believe in God, He will help you overcome every obstacle in your life. Run your life with faith in God!
It was an amazing day. The weather was perfect. People had risen early to get the best place along the streets of Jerusalem. They had brought palm branches to wave and blankets to lay on the ground as the celebrities would walk past them. The disciples had borrowed a colt from a local farmer and there was a nervous excitement in the room while waiting on Jesus. Jesus appeared and said, its time, lets go. The Triumphal entry began. The disciples waved and smiled, crowds cheered and shouted “Hosanna,” as Jesus ambled down the streets of Jerusalem. It was as though Jesus was personally acknowledging every person as he smiled and looked into their eyes as they shouted His name. In this moment who could imagine the events that would take place in the coming days. That this crowd would turn on Jesus. That these smiling disciples would deny they ever knew Him. That His body would be beaten to a nearly unrecognizable state. That He would be hanging on a cross in five short days. That in seven days, He would conqueror death, hell and the grave and life would never be the same again. The Passion Week, a reminder that no matter the circumstances in your life, they can change in a moment, seven short days.
Have you ever mopped or painted yourself in a corner, got trapped in a car or been locked in a freezer? Odd questions, I know, but our family has experienced all of these scenarios. Painting a floor, I painted myself in, ended up taking my shoes and socks off to get out of the corner. Our son Gentry had a car where the front passenger door would lock and you couldn’t get out, talk about an uncomfortable feeling. Mary called one day from work and her and a co-worker had got locked in a freezer. Fortunately, someone freed them. Why do I bring up these moments? Because there are those who have painted their life in a corner, locked themselves in a life of bitterness. How? By holding on to unforgiveness. When we choose to hold onto unforgiveness, we build our own jail cell with bars made of bitterness, anger and hurt. When we choose to let bitterness and hatred live in our life, it doesn’t impact those who have hurt us, it hurts us. We become bound to emotions and feelings that steel joy, peace and happiness. There is only one who can free you from this jail cell, you! The moment you let it go, forgive, the door to freedom opens. You get a new lease on life, fresh joy, peace and happiness. Free yourself today, forgive. Let it go!
It’s important that we know our opposition. The adversary, our enemy, whatever you call Satan. Every Christian must be aware of his tactics, that he never stops trying to destroy. Understand that he is an opportunist and a isolationist. He is someone who questions God’s Word and twist and contradicts truth. He is the author of confusion, and a liar.
Once he has deceived and destroyed a life, he disappears, leaving a person alone with pain and sorrow. When Satan found Eve in the Garden of Eden, he used nearly every resource he had. As an isolationist and opportunist, he waits until Eve is alone, vulnerable and weak. As someone who twists truth and contradicts God’s Word Satan first words to Eve is, “has God said,” followed up with a direct lie, “you shall not die.” Once he had convinced Eve and she had surrendered to his temptation, his task is completed, he disappears and leaves Eve with her sin. Though the dispensations, environments and temptation are different, his ploys never change. He used the same tactics against Jesus and he plots the same tactics against us today. Know your adversary, stay alert, know his ways, and always be aware he is lurking as a lion trying to destroy your life.
The eternal questions are the most important questions of life. Four questions that will determine everything about our destiny. Do I believe in God, not in a god, but the God, the one found in Genesis 1:1, the “in the beginning God?” Answering that question leads to the next. Do I believe in the Word of God; the Bible, that it is the infallible Word of God, that it is true and that it is the final authority? If I believe that there is God, that His Word is true then the next question is, do I believe there is a heaven and a hell and that each of us will arrive at one of those destinations? If I believe there is a heaven and a hell then the next question to ask is, what must I do to secure my eternity? If I truly believe there is an eternity then who do I want to answer the question about getting there? Do I want a religion, a religious institution, a church, a pastor, a friend or an internet source? I suggest you want only God to answer that question. The question answered by Jesus, God in flesh, in John 3 when He said to Nicodemus, “unless one is born of the water and Spirit he cannot enter in.” The real questions of life. Four eternal questions. Answer wisely.
The Last Supper. It was Holy but at the same time it was human. Artist render it as Holy, we view it as Holy and it was, but there was so much humanity in the moment. As the disciples entered the room they had failed to follow the custom, to make sure guest feet had been washed. Setting in the room, the conversation was not about scripture or sinners, but about who would be on the right and left of Jesus, who would be important. Jesus enters, and without condemnaiton or judgement, takes a basin of water and towel and begins washing the feet of those that in less than 24 hours would turn on Him. One would betray Him, another would curse Him and nearly all would abandon Him. Though He knew their future, He washed their feet, broke bread and had communion with them. Twelve very imperfect men; men looking for power and position and men that had faith but would fail, and yet, Jesus by His actions was saying, take this communion, because you believe in me and undestand you need me. Communion is not about your perfection, but His. It’s about understanding, acknowleging and saying, I believe in and need the work of Jesus in my life.
This week much of the Life family will be participating in a fast. Fasting is a time when we pull away from the pleasures of life and turn our focus on God. Some will fast all food for a few days while others will restrict their diet like Daniel. Fasting shows God our hunger to know and grow closer to Him. When we fast we should try to mute worldly influences and focus on things that enhance our spiritual life. Even if you are someone who is unable to fast it is a good time to step away from social media, secular music, entertainment (movies, television) and sports. Taking a few days, a week, and for some, the next 21 days to read, watch and listen to media that will enhance your spiritual awareness will reap benefits through 2018. Read the Bible, books like Draw the Circle 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson, The Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn and Storms by Jim Cymbala. In addition you can watch messages by Jentezen Franklin, Anthony Mangun and others on Youtube and make inspirational music the music of choice. While you will always be loved by God, fasting brings His favor and brings blessings. Lets take 2018 to another level!
Month of the Family 2017. Preparing the keynote for the month one man’s life came to mind, David. It was not David’s talent, skills, ability or accomplishments that grabbed my attention, it was David’s hunger and desire to know God and be in His presence. That hunger, desire and passion brought him a lineage that would bring the savior. Acts 13:22 says, “…I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart.” David didn’t seek fame, education, riches, kingdoms or even to reach lost souls, David sought the heart of God. David longed for a relationship with God, to know Him, His heart. He searched for Him, wrote songs and sang about Him, and prayed to Him with a desperate desire to know Him and to be in His presence. That kind of life brings blessings, favor and possibilities for generations that follow in your lineage.
My desire is to have a legacy that seeks God. If I could ask anything of God it would be that He would give me the promise that me, my family and my lineage would have the following four passions in our Spiritual DNA until eternity. First, that my lineage would pursue a relationship with Jesus with all their heart, mind and soul; that they would have hunger for a relationship with Jesus, to know Him, not religion or doctrine, but Him. That they would desire His presence, to know Him more than anything or anyone. Second, that they would have a passionate desire for prayer and the Word of God; that prayer and reading the Word would be about knowing Him. Third, I would ask that my lineage would have a knowledge, desire and passion to be filled with His Spirit with evidence of speaking in a language they do not know. That unknown language confirms in a way that no religion or man can that God has come inside of them and will, if they allow, transform them and translate them when the trumpet sounds. Finally, that my lineage would always believe as the Hebrews of the Old Testament were taught, “The Lord is our God, the Lord is one [the only God]!” (Duet. 6:4 AMP). That God is the Father, He is a son, He has and is a Spirit and His name is Jesus who has all power and authority. To understand, that through the name of Jesus, anything they ask is possible by the power and authority that is in His name.
What will your lineage look like? Will it be filled with people who were educated, great in sports, that had good jobs, lived in a nice home and drove expensive cars or were simply good people? My challenge this month is that you take on the responsibility of leaving a spiritual legacy. A legacy that will lead generations to eternity in Heaven. Return to God, make His house your highest priority. This month begin a new journey, fill your life and home with prayer, spiritual songs and seek Him with all your heart, in so doing you may leave a legacy that last until eternity!
Just another day and another prayer meeting. For days, the apostles along with another 500 people had been praying together, but now its day ten and the crowd is smaller now. For many, doubt had crept in and they had chosen to go on with life, no longer believing the words of Jesus, “go tarry in Jerusalem until you are filled with power.” Outside, festive plans were being made; another bountiful harvest meant a joyous celebration of Pentecost, a time to give thanks for God’s blessings on the crops. Jerusalem is a buzz; merchants were seeing dollar signs flash before their eyes and music fills the streets as people from all parts of the world filter in for a time of festivities and celebration.
It’s early, about 9 a.m. Street vendors are setting wares out on the street and commerce is beginning to build when suddenly there is a buzz about a strange happening in a place called the Upper Room. The promise had come, the Spirit had visited those who had remained, about 120 and it was pouring out onto the streets. It was a suddenly moment. Overwhelmed by the events, reports are flying about the city saying those that had been praying in the Upper Room were acting like they had been set on fire! There was also news of men speaking in different languages and unable to explain or communicate about why. Bystanders called them drunk. But this is no drunken stupor, but the beginning of a Spiritual experience that will turn the world upside down and remain a powerful force 2000 years later. The infilling of the Holy Spirit, an experience for their time and every generation thereafter. An experience for every generation; an experience for you and me!
Never underestimate the possibilities of what can happen in one moment in prayer…it might just change your world!
Moses was a man born with divine purpose. When Egypt calls for the slaughter of all Hebrew boys, his life is spared, and instead of death, he finds himself growing up in the home of the Pharaoh. His passion for his people becomes his downfall when he kills an Egyptian who is beating a Hebrew and it might appear that his purpose is over as he flees to the wilderness for his life. Confused and dismayed, he is unaware that he is still in God’s divine plan. The loneliness of the wilderness will develop him as a man and is preparing him for more than he can understand in the moment. It is there in the wilderness God calls him to his life’s purpose, to bring God’s people to a land of promise. He will return to Egypt with a clear vision, will experience the miraculous and in one night six million Hebrews leave Egypt. The journey will not be easy, the Egyptians will pursue, people will get disgruntled, but Moses now knows his life’s purpose; save a generation, bring a people to the land of promise. People will rebel, get frustrated, have fear and complain about him, but regardless of what they think or say, he understands his purpose, his calling, he will not be deterred.
While not all of us are called to save a nation I believe we all have divine purpose. Your life here on this earth is not an accident, it’s not trivial, it has a destiny. Will there be frustration, hardship and difficulties? Yes. Will there be people who will ridicule and mock your choices and decision? Yes. But, if you understand your calling, your divine purpose, nothing can deter you from what God has set in your heart. I encourage you today, hang on to those things that God has put in your heart, those dreams, impressions and visions. You may not be sure where you are in the process, but know this, if God has put it in your heart, if you will stay the course, He will do something great through your life. You have divine purpose.
In the book, The Noticer, Andy Andrews writes of a man by the name of Norman Bourlag, who received the Noble Prize for creating a technique that created a hybrid corn that saved the lives of over two million people. Andrews reflects on the possibility that it might have been Henry Wallace, Vice President under Roosevelt that might have saved two million lives because he was the one that asked Norman Bourlag to come up with the process. Andrews then submits that it may have actually been George Washington Carver who saved over two million because he invested and taught Henry Wallace much of what he knew about farming. Finally, Andrews proposes that it may have been a farmer by the name of Moses and his wife Susan who saved two million people because they saved the life of George Washington Carver. What is amazing is most of these people went to their graves never realizing that their one action would eventually impact two million people.
I suggest that many of the biblical hero’s we read likewise had no idea that one act was going to change history. Abraham’s obedience, taking his son up a mountain, would lead him to being called the father of faith. Moses, listening to a small voice coming from a fire, leads people out of Egypt but likely went to his grave feeling like a failure for not getting them into the Promise land. Little did he realize the impact, that his willingness to trust God, would live on for dispensations. Might I suggest that Simon Peter will be stunned by the impact of one message, the message on the Day of Pentecost and that Paul will be overwhelmed by the fact that the letters he was writing trying to straighten out churches that were frustrating him with their inconsistency would end up in the Bible. These men, and so many others in the Bible, simply lived the life that was laid out before them, did what was asked, and were willing to walk and be led by the Spirit.
Like generations before us, we have been given an opportunity to Outlive our Lives. Like those we call heroes of the faith and like farmer Moses and George Washington Carver it is possible that we have been brought to a “such a time as this,” moment. An opportunity to invest in something that will outlive us, something that when we get to heaven will cause us to say, this happened because we gave, because we believed? What is your faith feeling? What is the small still voice saying? Will you Outlive your life? I want to be overwhelmed by what God did with my simple act of faith, obedience and giving. I want to be a part of something that Outlives My Life!
The action of one person often changes the direction and destiny for many. This is exemplified by God coming to earth robed in flesh, living with the humanity He created, going to the cross and resurrecting. That courageous act changed everything about what we do, who we are and and our eternal destination. The Bible is filled with examples of people who have breakthrough moments that impact cities, nations and generations. Moses breaks through his past failure to lead a nation out of Egypt and changes the destiny of a nation. David breaks through the fear of his brothers and army to lead them to a victory over the Philistines. The three Hebrew children break through the intimidation of idolatry to bring a heathen nation to say, “the Lord, He is God.” Simon Peter breaks through his denial of Christ to preach the message that still lives today and Paul breaks through his theology, experiences the power of the Spirit and establishes churches throughout the world and writes 13 books of the Bible.
These stories are there to give us hope and courage to have our own breakthroughs. What if a wall you’re dealing with comes down, how might it impact you and others? Could it change your entire life? Could it change the destination of future generations in your family? Could a breakthrough in your life change the destiny of Life Connections? We have no idea of what a breakthrough in our life might do for our life, home, church and future generations. We serve the God of the breakthrough! I was inspired by a song I recently heard by Eddie James called “Breakthrough” which is quickly becoming my theme song for 2017. The words say, “walls fall down when I shout through, strongholds break when I pray through, I’m going to praise you, you are the God of the Breakthrough!” The bridge say, “You are the God of the breakthrough of my heart, mind, spirit, soul, weakness, struggle, worship, praise, when I lift and glorify His name, dance and shout.” What a powerful song and testimony. If Moses, David, the Hebrew children, Simon Peter, Paul and a host of witnesses can have breakthrough moments, why can’t we? We serve the God of the breakthrough! Let me encourage someone with barriers, walls, past failures, fear and discouragements; you are one day away from a breakthrough. What do you need to do? Pray, worship, be faithful, be obedient, yield and I absolutely believe that 2017 can be the year of breakthrough for you! You serve the God of the breakthrough!
Foundations. They are the most important part of any building, business or person. Everything that happens in the future is dependent on the quality of the foundation. The bigger the building the deeper and larger the foundation, it requires more time and greater resources but in the end, it will be worth every amount of energy spent. Building a sky scraper requires that you dig deep, use massive anchors and wide block, anything less and it will crumble under its own weight. Build a business without good financial structure and clear vision of your product and the market and it won’t be long until you’ll see a sign that says, “going out of business.” Likewise, for every successful person there must be a strong foundation. Build a life without God and it won’t be long before a person begins to crack and crumble under the weight of sin. Why are foundations so important? Because storms come to everything and everyone. No building, business, person or family is immune. Jesus teaches us this principle when He talks about two builders who built homes. Likely both were built with the same materials, workmanship and care. The difference? Jesus tells us the difference, one was built on sand, the other on stone. Both appeared to have built successfully, but when the storms came the one built on sand crumbled while the other stood. His principle, storms come and foundations are critical!
As we move into a new year l encourage every person to build a strong foundation. It will require more time and energy, sacrifice and change but if you want 2017 to be the best year of your life, you must build a strong foundation that equips you for success that will survive any storm. So, what does it take? First, clear space. Get rid of the unnecessary. Clear the things that clutter your mind, steal your time and burn energy. Think on the right things (Philip. 4:8), cut out social media, vain media and push back fear and worry. Second, dig deep. Hit your knees daily and stay there until you have been transformed and refreshed by His Spirit. Third, anchor strongly. There is no anchor stronger than the Word of God. David said, Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You. Anchor your life and family to the undeniable, all powerful Word of God. Fourth, build on His Spirit. Seek and pursue His Spirit with all your heart. Pray and fast until you’re pure and clean; until you speak in an unknown language again, until you are full of and led by His Spirit. Finally, get God in front of everything. Don’t allow God to become distant, keep Him close to you so that people and problems look small. He is bigger, stronger and more powerful than any problem or person. I believe that 2017 holds great things for Life Connections and every person who calls it home. How great? It depends on us and on how big we are willing to build our foundation. Let’s build BIG!
During this time of year, I often hear the phrase Jesus, the reason for the season,” but I would go further, Jesus is the reason for life. Without His birth, His life and His sacrificial death our lives are meaningless. His lineage, nature, place of birth, where He would be raised, His career, purpose, the specific manor and nature of His death, His resurrection, all were told in the Old Testament, hundreds of years before His birth. How could you not believe? His life changed the dateline and history forever. Every day of His life was a fulfillment of scripture and a reason to believe that He was truly, “God in flesh.” The following is a composition that beautifully describes the uniqueness of the life of Jesus, it’s called “One Solitary Life” and gives a fresh perspective of the simple, yet impactful life He lived.
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn’t go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His garments, the only property He had on earth. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the Navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life.
As we prepare to celebrate our Saviors birth, be encouraged about your life and family. Those who lived and watched Jesus could have never predicted His impact and may I say that the impact that you are having on your kids and family is greater than you could ever imagine too. Often we look at what we’re not doing, what we lack and how inconsistent we are but I challenge you this Christmas season to talk about the possibilities, the dreams and the great benefits that are yours because of one simple solitary life. Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.
1 Chronicles 13:14
Thus the ark of God remained with the family of Obed-edom in his house three months; and the Lord blessed the family of Obed-edom with all that he had.
I love the verse above; as long as the ark, presence of God, was in the house of Obed-edom they were blessed. The desire of our hearts should be to have the presence of God in our home. As we go through the month of the family and draw our hears toward God and family, I thought some might enjoy this acronym.
Your Spouse, Children and God
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.
In an hour when there are fewer and fewer who stand up for principle I enjoyed the words of Zell Miller. While affiliated with his political party for years Mr. Miller understood that he had a greater allegiance than to an organization, club or party; he understood he had a responsibility to his heart, his values , his family and before God. While many will criticize his actions, I am here to applaud him. It takes courage in this hour to stand fro principles, values and truth.
My prayer for you this week is that you too will have the courage to stand for what is right and true. The future of our lives, families and a nation depends upon men and women of faith standing for principle, values, and truth. May God bless you and your family this month as we turn our focus toward our families; we must be strong and courageous.