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Sermon of the Week 
Wednesday, November 25 2015

“Celebrating Thanksgiving in a Brave New World”

We’re not going to spend our time talking about the first Thanksgiving, but I want to deal with the “Can Do” attitude that caused them to overcome all of the unsurmountable odds, endure unbelievable hardships, and thrive in a time of desperation and depravation. Somehow even with all the Thanksgiving festivities around the big Gobble, gobble, the turkey has survived as a breed….

Let me begin this “Can Do” theme, with a story about Jerry. Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the door unlocked one morning as he was getting his restaurant ready for business, and he was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. When he told them his wife took care of all the money, and she would not be in for 2 hours. The robbers panicked and shot him. Fortunately a regular customer found him and called an ambulance. They rushed him to the local trauma center and after 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. About six months after the accident, he was asked what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. He said that "The first thing that went through his mind was that he should have locked the back door, then, as he lay on the floor, knowing he was in critical condition, he realized that he had two choices: he could choose to live, or he could choose to die.

He said “I chose to live." He said, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I could read, 'He's a dead man,' and I knew I needed to take action. There was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me, she asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied.

And the doctors and nurses stopped everything as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'I’m allergic to Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live, so operate on me as if I’m alive, not dead." Jerry lived thanks to the skill of paramedics, doctors and nurses, but also because of his amazing attitude. We can all learn from Jerry, that every day we have the choice to live fully, or we can become the living dead, in a coffin of fears, intimidation, emotional wounds, rejection, and failures. I choose to live….how about you!!!

Here’s some notable Quotes, I want to share with you

"Our attitude chooses our joys and sorrows long before they ever get to us."

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it should annoy enough people to make it well worth the effort."

The wells of possibility every day of your life are deep, be sure to bring your biggest bucket with you.

You will always show by your attitude... where you have placed your values.

The glass of gratitude is not just half full or half empty, it's usually just too small

A healthy attitude is contagious but don't wait to catch it from others. Start your own epidemic.

You are where you are... because of the way you reacted to what happened to you where you were.

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything like it was a nail.

Trying to change your outer world without adjusting your inner beliefs and attitude, is like believing that a merry go round is actually going somewhere.

Airplane pilots often use “attitude” to describe their horizontal relationship with the runway when they land. If the plane's attitude is not properly aligned it will make contact with the ground at the wrong angle and it will cause the plane to crash.

Our attitude, and our alignment with things around us ultimately determines the final outcome of our relationship with those things and people who are involved in how we are feeling, perceiving and experiencing our situations and circumstances.

John C. Maxwell says “We all must be willing to constantly reinvent ourselves through our attitude and our outlook. Our attitudes and alignments are the advance team and the way markers of our true selves. Their roots go downward but their fruit grows outward; They are our best friend or our worst enemy; They are more honest and more consistent indicators, than the words that we speak. They are the external expression of the sum of our past experiences; They are the thing which draws people to us or repels them. They are never content until they are expressed; They are the librarians of our past, the speakers of our present and the prophets of our future.“

One of the major enemies of a great attitude are our comfort zones....

What Is a Comfort Zone? A comfort zone is a ceiling on our performance or health, or finances, or job, which are our emotional “No Trespassing Zones.” These “zones” are invisible to us, except when we look at the results of our efforts in key areas of our lives.

Our results are reflected in the comfort zones under which we currently operate. We are compelled to stay within these boundaries for their ease and familiarity, and we will seek ways to balance our lives so we can remain within these safe zones. Comfort zones will say things like….

If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees…

Why do I need to run if no one is chasing me?

If I’m not supposed to eat at night, why is there a light bulb in the refrigerator?

I don't regret doing things, I just regret getting caught..

or…I'm having a pity party and you're not invited.

Comfort Zones say.. "who's going to help me" instead of "who can I help or where can I help"? They defy us to think of life without limits.

How Do I Know If I have a safe zone? Just look at your life --- your health, finances, relationships, and general sense of well-being. If your health is always compromised, or you make a certain salary every year and never go above that dollar amount, or if *…..your relationships follow all the same predictable patterns, it is highly likely you have a comfort zone in which you are operating (or hiding) to stay safe.

Staying emotionally safe is the real reason we live within these comfort zones. Feeling out of place, or that you don’t belong in a new “zone” will immediately signal you to sabotage yourself so that you come back “home where it’s safe again.” A key to identifying whether you have comfort zones and where they are, is whether your efforts to change emotionally, financially or physically have been temporary or permanent or not at all.

When you have successfully worked on expanding your comfort zones, changes come automatically and remain permanent. When you have only applied a band-aid approach to your problems (a diet, a better job, a new circle of friends, even trying a new hairdo) you are likely to return to your original markers, and you will continue to be disappointed with only temporary results. Are you disappointed by some changes that were only temporary and left you back where you started? Are you frustrated because you thought you had “worked on” an issue only to find it has resurfaced?

Maybe you thought with your new job, it would be “different” this time, but it turned out to be the same if not worse than the previous one. Perhaps you thought you had finally found the diet that was “the One”, only to find that you quickly regained the weight you had lost with your new eating plan. Or maybe you thought you had found “The One” that you could spend the rest of your life with, but it lasted about as long as the warrantee on your toaster….It could be a coincidence or maybe your fears are sabotaging you.

A delivery truck was taking a special shipment to the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau in California… and it got lost. This was before they had GPS. The delivery truck driver saw someone and stopped to ask for directions. Now ordinarily this wouldn't have been unusual. People get lost all the time, I'm sure you get lost every once in a while. And even delivery truck drivers will get lost occasionally.

What made this incident so odd was that - in the back of the truck were 50,000 glorious new maps of the area from a map company. The truck driver got lost - even though his truck had 50,000 maps INSIDE of it… maps that could have easily helped him find his way to his destination had he only had access to them. Today we have smart phones, with access to all the information that is on the world-wide web, but if we haven’t learned how to use it, with all that information available, we will only use our phone to receive and send calls….

The same is true of God’s word, and the access we have through the Holy Spirit. If we don’t become acquainted with what has been made available to us, we will live our lives far below our capacity. The good news is that we can change those patterns on a permanent basis. Getting to the root cause of the “relapses” we may have in any area of our lives is a sure way to expand these zones which will enable us to move further and advance more than we ever dreamed..

How do we expand these “safe zones” in our lives? How do we minimize the revolving door effect that keeps bringing us back to where we started from? Well, it’s like blowing up a balloon, you do it little by little….

It can be obvious that we are limited, since there has been no growth or development in some areas, because we have become too comfortable at that level! We may not understand why we are blocked, but once we began to allow God’s spirit to shine light on it, and we determine that we will not be locked into the past, or the old patterns and ways of thinking, we can blow past it very quickly.

Some folks will want name rank and serial number, to pinpoint that their problem came from something their father or family members said, a comment their coach or sibling said, or their friend who abandoned them, that made them decide to stick within a comfortable “No Trespassing” zone.

In other cases, you don’t need to know the specifics because you can tell you’ve hit a comfort zone nerve, by the anxiety level that surfaces when you consider stretching past your current limits . You know immediately, that you have encountered a barrier which must come down so that you can excel and achieve greater heights.

So, How Do I Expand Beyond those pesky, frightening comfort zones? This is the fun part! Once you have identified some of your comfort zones (and everyone will) and you decide that you are willing to break through them…..

Give yourself the permission to break through these “ceilings” or “lids” that limit you. Remember, that permission is power to act! Our limiting beliefs are the convictions and fears which we have, that support our comfort zones.

There are three laws that always work to destroy limiting beliefs….

(1) We must operate in The Law of subliminal Thought…..Our emotions, beliefs, attitudes, expectations, words, and actions, begin as thoughts

Proverbs 23:7 "as a man thinks in his heart, (or at his center) so is he" That’s where what you really, really believe about yourself is, where your true values are, and where everything that motivates you in your behavior and actions is located.....

(2) We must operate in The Law of Permission -- We have now become that which we have permitted ourselves to be. I cannot become anything I have become, without my own permission... I may not believe anyone else, but I believe what I am constantly telling myself about myself. So, let go and check out what God is saying about you….He believed in you before you even knew yourself….He doesn’t make junk!

Isaiah 50:8 “Who will dare to give me a chance, says the Lord. Come, let us confer with one another. v9 Behold, the Lord will help me; who is he that can condemn me”?

A young girl brought her test paper home. She had gotten all the answers on the science test correct but one. It said, describe an impossible thing. So she wrote, “all things are possible with God” It was marked wrong, because it was not scientific enough. But she had given herself permission to do the impossible.

(3) We must operate in The Law of Co-creation -- We can participate in Co-creating ourselves to be, to do, to have, to express, and to experience, whatever we choose in life.

In Genesis 1:28 God said “Have dominion, be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth, I have given unto you every living thing".... It is God who created and commissioned Adam and Eve to abound with incredible potential, the sky was the limit, but they chose instead, the forbidden fruit, they chose limits. Satan wanted to keep them from becoming what they were designed and created to become.

Someone said, “As you begin each day, if you can believe the ocean of opportunity God has available for you, then you will carry the biggest bucket you can find”!

God gave us Dominion (inner authority) over our own mind, body, emotions, Spirit, and our stuff. Outward dominion comes from inner authority.

When many farms were going bankrupt because of financial setbacks, a company called “Upward Bound” bought 16 farms and converted them. They transformed the Silos into indoor climbing walls. They filled the barns with trampolines and became a huge hit with young and old. Now they’re buying more farms, to keep up with the demand.

Many others converted their farms into raising buffalo, lamas, ostriches and some, even flooded low areas and raised catfish. By removing “limiting Beliefs”, they transformed failure to success. There was a way they simply hadn’t thought of yet!

If we look at Luke's words in Acts 10:1-35, it is a proto-type for some serious stretching of our comfort zones. The beautiful city of Caesarea, built by Herod the Great, was the center of the Roman government in Palestine. In this city lived a centurion named Cornelius. A centurion was a Roman army officer in charge of 100 soldiers and Luke tells us that this man and his entire family were devout and God-fearing and he gave generously to the poor and was a man of prayer. Cornelius must have come to appreciate the only true God.

As he was praying in Palestine one day, at three o'clock in the afternoon, Cornelius had a vision of an angel of God which came to him and called him by name. The angel informed Cornelius that God had taken notice of him and told him to send some men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon, who was also called Peter. Cornelius would have observed that Simon was a Jewish name.

A Jew coming to a Gentile home was unthinkable, entirely illegal for the Jews, but Cornelius, demonstrating both faith and a willingness to move out beyond his comfort zone, sent two of his servants and an aide to the address in Joppa. As the scene shifts to Joppa the next day, we see Peter on the roof praying. It's noon, and Peter's prayers have been distracted because he's hungry. While the meal is being prepared, Peter has a vision. Three times he sees a large sheet descending from the sky with all kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds on it. A voice tells Peter to get up and help himself to this non-kosher smorgasbord.

There's a problem, however: Peter is a good Jew, he knows the dietary regulations found in Leviticus 11. He knows that Jews are only allowed to eat kosher or clean food, that is, meat from animals that both chew their cud and have cloven hooves. In our day, he would not be able to eat any pork chops, lobster, or turtle soup, but three times the Lord tells Peter not to call anything un-kosher that God has declared kosher. Aren't you lobster lovers glad God cancelled the dietary code?

You've probably heard the rest of the story as Peter was thinking about the vision, the three men from Caesarea arrived downstairs and asked for him. The Spirit told Peter to go meet with them, and not to hesitate in going home with them. The men informed Peter that Cornelius was waiting to hear him preach. Peter invited the men to stay with him there in Joppa that night, since Caesarea was about 30 miles away. (It was one thing for a Jew to offer hospitality to Gentiles; it was another thing to accept hospitality from a gentile (un-kosher).

But Peter's vision was part of the process in preparing him to stretch outside of his comfort zone. Peter and his entourage (we are told later that six of his brothers went with him) arrived at Cornelius' house to find him eagerly waiting for this preacher. As he walked into the house, Peter found he had a congregation eagerly waiting for a sermon. He reminded his hearers that what he was doing by being there, was unthinkable and unlawful but he also told them he had just concluded that what God has called clean he should not call unclean. Then Cornelius told Peter about the vision he had, and Peter gave his message. Peter was learning as well as teaching he discovered that God does not show favoritism, but accepts people from all backgrounds.

What a change in thinking for Peter! He proclaimed the story of Jesus to them, telling them how Jesus went about doing good. But Jesus was more than a political benefactor, he healed the sick and those who were under the authority of the devil. Then Peter told Cornelius' household that God had raised Jesus from the dead. He said that everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name.

While he was speaking, the Holy Spirit came upon the congregation, reminiscent of that Pentecost Sunday in Jerusalem and like those believers in Jerusalem, the accompanying sign of speaking in unknown tongues, came upon these new Gentile believers. Peter and his associates were astonished, if God had accepted these people, what was to prevent the church from accepting them into its fellowship? So, they were baptized, (an outward act that demonstrates the reception of people into the family of God). Peter stayed with this new church for a few days and continued to teach them from the word of God. As they gave thanks to God!

Their values changed their attitudes, which changed Their actions….

Have you ever looked with envy at people who always seem happy and enjoying life and wish you could be more like them? Have you ever said to yourself "Why is it that they are always so popular and seem to attract everyone to them like a magnet?" Did you ever stop to think that it might just be their positive attitude and the way they look at - and react to - the world around them?

Thinking and acting with a positive attitude can do more than anything else towards getting you whatever you want out of life, because those who are in positions to make things happen for you will want to be around you, and want to work with you to help make your dreams a reality. Having a positive attitude in whatever you do will make things easier, and even more enjoyable and while you’re at it, you might want to notify your face! Here are seven simple but powerful tips to having a more positive attitude - and thus becoming a more powerful person.

We Can all Have A Positive Attitude In just 7 Simple Steps….

#1. I will Take passionate action towards living my life fully each day. Don't just make it through the day, really live it. Sink your teeth into it and live it like it was your last day on earth. Wring every moment out of it and live each day with passion. Passion and a positive attitude are contagious. You will find others attracted to you who are just as passionate about life and living.

#2. I will Act instead of reacting. Don't wait until something bad happens then try to deal with it. Be proactive and make something good happen. You are responsible for what you make of the life you have, and you only have one, so don't waste it. Create the best life you possibly can, one day at a time.

#3. I will Believe that each moment is perfect regardless of its outcome. Bad things happen. That is a fact of life, but that doesn't mean you have to allow it to drag you down. Good can come from everything, no matter how bad it may be at the time. If we really believe God’s word and the teaching of Christ, then surely we believe this. Learn to open yourself up to learn from, and gain strength from, the bad things that happen in your life. Learning to have a positive attitude even when bad things are happening will help you to get through the bad times even stronger and more determined to succeed.

#4. I will Learn to always be grateful for what I have. It's a well-known fact among successful people that having gratitude will get you more than living like no matter what, you’re never satisfied. There's nothing wrong with having dreams and goals and desiring more out of life, but don't forget to be grateful for what you have already. Those who are never satisfied or grateful with what they have get into a "needy”, "poverty" mindset, where they think they never have had anything, and they’re doomed to never have anything.

A positive attitude attracts positive actions. Gratitude attracts positive, creative energy.

#5. I will Seize the moment with wisdom, integrity, and honesty and I will not live with regret.. However, don't spend money that’s not yours, and put yourself in the poorhouse or take food out of your childrens' mouths, and clothes off of their back, chasing every get-rich-quick scheme that comes around the corner.

If you haven’t paid your bills, you’re stealing, because you’re using money that belongs to someone else. You don’t have any money to spend, until after the bills are paid. A bill is a contract, and it is a reflection of your character. You are a thief and a contract breaker if you spend money and neglect your bills. But if you have honored those you promised to pay, then don't be afraid to take opportunities that feel right.

#6. I will always keep my sense of humor. I will laugh more than I do. I will protect my joy for it renews, replenishes, and refreshes me and makes me more pleasant and attractive to others. People like to be around those who find humor in even the most awkward moments. Learn to Laugh, and your days will become more positive, especially if you can learn to laugh at yourself. Don't take yourself, or life, too seriously. Life is much too short to waste it moping around in self-pity. A sense of humor can be the result of self-confidence and being secure with who you are.

People have mistakenly pictured Jesus as some hard nosed, long faced, stern, never smiling being. But scripture tells us that children were drawn to him everywhere He went, and children don’t like a sour-puss!!!!

#7. I will accept the power God has given me to take charge of my destiny. No one can take your dreams from you except for you. As long as there's still breath in your body, there is no limit to how much you can accomplish. Life is not something that is going on around you, separate and removed from you. It is what you make of it. And even by doing nothing you are still creating, shaping and molding your life, so why not get involved and create a life you want and can enjoy? Create the life you, yourself dream of.

Start a R.A.K. revolution… that stands for Random Acts of Kindness revolution..... What if we were to go beyond what is required, and do more than is expected… it would make a much greater impact upon the lost, than arguing scripture with them, or trying to convince them of something we have not been living out before them, by *…..example!.. Ecclesiastes 11:1 "Cast your bread (seed) upon the water and in not many days it shall come unto you again....What if we had "Random Acts of Kindness Day' for 365 days a year on our calendars? A day when you are free to be the friend you want others to be. Free Of Limiting Beliefs…

Galations 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage”.

Stop hoping and wishing, and decide to make a great life! You plus God are a majority!

As we break free of our limiting comfort zones, we can truly have Thanksgiving, as we make our declaration today…

I am free, I am happy; I am abundant in mind body and spirit, I am loved, and I am loving, Life is such a beautiful thing…I am surrounded daily with the beauty of life, I am one with God the Creator, I am fully present and in agreement as His Creation, through His grace and mercy, I am guilt free, and I am shame free. Everything is working for my good, I trust in God's greater purposes in all things, I now choose to expand myself and my life, I now choose to be successful and happy, I now choose to be unafraid, as I move forward, I now choose to know myself fully and discover New dimensions of God's plan for and through me, I now choose wholeness and acceptance.I now choose to be part of unconditional love, love, without limits.

Posted by: AT 12:09 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, November 18 2015

Creating A Culture Of Thanksgiving

We are truly Grateful for all that we have been blessed with at this Thanksgiving Season, and I pray that we might be the kind of Pilgrims who will create a Thanksgiving Culture that will invade the entire year....

I want to begin today, with a quick history lesson, by looking at Thanksgiving Customs in Other Cultures as well as our own… We usually think of Thanksgiving Day as a uniquely American and Canadian holiday, but there's actually a long tradition of harvest-time celebrations which are expressions of gratitude by diverse cultures, for a good harvest season.

Every autumn, the ancient Greeks enjoyed a three-day festival to honor Demeter, the goddess of the harvest.                                                                                                     The Romans had a similar celebration in which they honored­ Ceres, the goddess of corn (the word "cereal" is derived from her name). The Roman celebration included music, parades, games, sports and a feast, much like our modern Thanksgiving Day.                                                                                      

In fact, one of the most prominent Thanksgiving symbols, the cornucopia, actually dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The term (generally describing a horn-shaped basket filled with fruit, flowers and other goodies) which comes from the Latin cornu copiae, which describes a "horn of plenty." In Greek mythology, the cornucopia is a severed goat's horn, created by Zeus and enchanted to produce a never-ending supply of whatever the owner desires. Thank God, we look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith!

The ancient Chinese held a harvest festival called Chung Ch'ui to celebrate the harvest moon and give thanks. Families would get together for a feast, which included round yellow cakes called "moon cakes."

In the Jewish culture, families also celebrate a harvest festival, called Sukkot. This festival has been celebrated for 3,000 years by building a hut of branches called a Sukkot. Jewish families then eat their meals beneath the Sukkot under the night sky for eight days.                                                    

The ancient Egyptians participated in a harvest festival in honor of Manetho, the god of vegetation and fertility, which we now call the Sphinx. Parades, music and sports were a part of these festivities as well.

In the British Isles, the major harvest festival was called Lammas Day. Lammas is the Old English word for "loaf of bread". On Lammas Day, everyone would come to church with a loaf of bread made from the first of the wheat harvest. The church would bless the bread, in gratitude for that year's harvest.

In 1609, a group of Puritans fleeing religious persecution in England moved to Holland. They ­lived in Holland for a number of years until a group of English investors -- the Merchant Adventurers -- financed a trip for more than 100 passengers to the New World.

On Sept. 6, 1620, they set sail on a ship called the Mayflower, leaving from England and arriving in the New World after 65 days of rough and stormy ocean waters. They settled in a town they called Plymouth, in what is now Massachusetts. The Pilgrims' first winter was so harsh that fewer than 50 people out of the group of 100, survived the season.

On March 16, 1621, nearly a year after arriving, an Abnaki Indian named Samoset entered the Plymouth settlement. He welcomed the Pilgrims in English, which he had learned from their efforts to Christianize them, and the next day returned with another American Indian named Squanto, who spoke English well.

With Squanto's help, the Pilgrims were able to survive in the New World. The indians taught them how to get sap out of the maple trees, how to avoid plants that were poisonous and how to plant corn and other crops. The harvest was very successful, due in large part to help from the American Indians. The Pilgrims had enough food for the winter and had learned how to survive in the New World.

Plymouth Colony's Governor, William Bradford, decided to throw a feast of celebration and invited the colony's American Indian neighbors to take part. The American Indians brought food as well, and the celebration lasted for three days. Theirs was not just a day of Thanksgiving that was celebrated but indeed they had begun a culture of thanksgiving, since there were so many challenges that they had to face in carving out a place in the New World. Our Thanksgiving day is connected to the English Puritan's practice of setting apart days of giving thanks unto God. These highly religious occasions have followed times of great difficulty and hardships which have been encountered throughout America’s turbulent history .                                                                                                               

In 1789, President George Washington called for a day of thanksgiving in recognition of the U.S. Constitution's ratification….He wrote…."Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November, to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the benevolent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."                                                                                         

Then, In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be the last day in November, in order to boost the sagging morale of the Union army, and after the Civil War, Congress agreed to make Lincoln’s proclamation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday….President Lincoln wrote…”The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed, that we are prone to forget their source, so extraordinary in nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. No human counsel has devised nor any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in our sins, has nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole of the American people”.

Certainly we can see that what we know as Thanksgiving Day, has a rich history, which is rooted in gratitude to God for His protection, provision and Divine Providence. The only thing which can stop us from taking it to the next level and creating a culture of Thanksgiving in our homes, in our workplaces, or in the most fundamental places of our lives, is we, ourselves! We must set the pace and be the forerunners by what we do….

A young couple brought their new-born son to the pediatrician for his first checkup, the doctor said, "You have a really cute baby." Smiling, we said, "I'll bet you say that to all the new parents." "No," he replied, "just to those whose babies are really cute." "So what do you say to the others?" we asked. Oh, I just say "He looks just like you." ….

I ask you, today, “How would our nation’s spiritual heritage look if it looked just like us”…?

Creating a Thanksgiving culture means a transformation in the content of our own hearts, where our character is formed, a transformation of the words we chose, and a transformation in the attitudes we hold and our perceptions of the world and the people around us. I want to challenge all of us as we move from Thanksgiving Day, into Thanksgiving Year, to reevaluate what's really important, what really drives and motivates us, what we’re thankful for, and what our core values really are.

1Thesselonians 5:15  See that none of you conduct yourselves in a worthless or harmful manner, but always follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. v16 Rejoice in all things. v17 Pray without ceasing. v18 In everything give thanks: for this truly is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Let’s look at some ways that we can all begin to create a culture of Thanksgiving in our circle of influence…

1…By Creating A Culture of Honor….

There was a man who owned a turkey farm in Iowa...and the Iowa State Wage and Fairness Department claimed he was not paying the help proper wages and had sent an agent out to interview him. "I need a list of all your employees and how much you pay them," demanded the agent. "Well," replied the farmer, "there's my farm hand who's been with me for 3 years". "I pay him $200 a week plus free room and board". "The cook has been here for 18 months, and I pay her $150 per week plus free room and board". "Then there's the idiot half-wit who works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of all the work around here".

"He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I let him go into town with my wife and celebrate, every Saturday night".

"Well now, That idiot half-wit is the guy I want to talk to --says the agent.

"Well sir, truth be known, that half- wit would be me," replied the farmer. (This is a man who doesn’t feel appreciated!)

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is when you actually do something about that impulse”…..Henry Van Dyke

In a Gallup poll survey, published in the book, ‘How Full Is Your Bucket?” …it says that 65 percent of the people polled, say they don’t feel appreciated. When those around us feel unappreciated, they start to care a little less. They don’t provide the level of involvement they would if they felt appreciated. And when the majority of  people feel this way, the overall environment is greatly impacted, in a very negative way. In fact, those who don’t place recognition and honoring others as a priority, especially in today’s high-stress environment, are only shooting themselves in the foot. (quote)                                                                                                              

You See, Creating a culture of Honoring others, starts with each one of us deliberately infusing our circles of influence, from top to bottom, with the proverbial “attitude of gratitude.”                                                                       

If you are familiar with the book of Esther you know that Mordecai only knew scorn because his entire race was being shown disrespect and hate by the Persian king’s right hand man, Haman …But what the enemy meant for evil…GOD meant for good! And because Haman refused to honor the man who saved the king’s life, Haman ended up proclaiming that everyone should bow and honor Mordecai, and then was hung on the gallows he had built for Mordecai! Our God specializes in turning ashes into beauty!...

No matter where You’ve been… No matter what You’ve done, You can begin Again…God in Christ, has reshaped man’s idea of who deserves honor…Jesus said the last shall be first… Those who are humble will be exalted…Honor is not just for those who have accomplished much here on earth…Christ has honored us, by taking our place on the cross …                                                                                             

2. Create A Culture of Giving…..Science has shown that the act of giving to a cause you care about activates the "pleasure center" in the *….brain, known as the Hypothalamus. Numerous studies have proven a positive correlation between folks who volunteer to benevolent causes and it’s effects in lower levels of heart disease, depression, and other health risks. "Charitable work literally makes the heart grow stronger." Therefore, charitable, benevolent folks live longer!

When we exhibit stingy behavior -- although we may not even be aware of it -- we cause our levels of cortisol, the "stress" hormone to increase and increased cortisol can, over time, lead to numerous health problems, including heart disease and depression.

If a family member is in need, you wouldn't hesitate to help them. If people in our circle of influence are hungry you respond to alleviate their hunger. When we are generous with our time, generous with our talent, generous with our treasure, we benefit, our families benefit and our community benefits. In these circles of generosity, we win new friends, form new alliances and our definition of "our neighbor," grows larger, in ever widening circles of compassion.

Do a favor for your next door neighbor, or make a donation to a local nonprofit that serves in your community. Whenever we can, when Winnie and I go shopping, we drop something off at the food bank on Big Pine, so that our shopping trip will benefit someone beyond our own table…give it a try…                                                                                                              

Every generous action and every gift, makes an impact on our own well-being as well as an impact on our world. What if we established “Days of Giving” each week in our family, as a place to start, when, our entire family agrees collectively, to practice generosity, creating a culture of giving rather than a culture of getting. We could extend Thanksgiving and Christmas through every week of the year!

An attractive young woman, walked up to a department store fabric counter, and says to the clerk, “I would like to buy this material for some new dresses. How much does it cost?” “Well, normally it would be $3.00 per yard, but I will give it to you for only one kiss per yard,” replied the male clerk with a hopeful grin. “Alright then, that’s will be fine,” said the girl. “I’ll take it all.” With excited expectation and anticipation written all over his face, the clerk quickly measured out the cloth, wrapped it up, and then teasingly held it out with a pucker. The girl snapped up the package, pointed to the toothless, tobacco *….stained mouth of the old man standing beside her, and said, smiling, “Grandpa is going to pay the bill.” (so much for generosity)

3. Create a culture of Thanksgiving by Getting on the “Thank You” Bandwagon…

~John Fitzgerald Kennedy…. As we express our gratitude at the Thanksgiving season, we must never forget that the highest form of appreciation is not to just speak the words, but to live by them.                   

When someone does something kind for you, whether it’s your boss, your co-worker, your neighbor, or a stranger, recognize it! Just A simple “thank you” will do fine. “You can’t expect people to appreciate you if you don’t receive their kindness and compliments and words of instruction with thankfulness.”                                                                                                                        If someone wants to really compliment me on a sermon, the best compliment I can receive is, “that really met my need today”….               

That brings me to “Our Individual Love Languages” … We all have a different “Love language” and we all respond at different levels….it’s important to try to discover what a person’s love language is in order to say “Thank You” effectively. Here they are…

1st..Words of Affirmation….for this person it is enough to express verbally, ways in which you appreciate them.. as I said before, for myself, it is.(that really met my need today) or (You’re really making a difference).

2nd ..Acts of Service…for this person, washing their car, mowing their lawn, or running an errand is how you say that you appreciate them.

3rd ..Receiving a Gift….for this person, a thoughtful gift, or even a card, is how they know that you genuinely appreciate them…

4th ..Quality Time….this person responds most when you give them your undivided attention to let them know you appreciate them.

5th ..Physical Touch…this is a “touchy feely” person and responds well to a hug, a pat on the back, or a stroke of the face. It’s like you hooked a jumper cable to their battery….

4.. To create a culture of Thanksgiving….Create a Culture of Celebration…If you think Independence Day is America's defining holiday, you need to think again. Thanksgiving Day should deserve that title, hands-down.

What we Celebrate, reveals what we treasure and what is esteemed by us as valuable…..

As we Celebrate who we are, what we value, our victories, salvations, our giving, and our ministry to others, we create an atmosphere of excitement for what God is doing corporately and individually…..                                                                                           As we celebrate, it can create a powerful culture of encouragement, acceptance, affirmation and motivation! We should be giving each other high fives and pats on the back during church service. Cause you’re saying “I honor you, I appreciate you, I celebrate you”!!!                                     

In Job 17:3, Job asks, “ who will give me a high five here in the ash heap”? Encouragement, acceptance, and affirmation can go a long way for someone who is down in the ash heap of life!

Matthew 6:21  tells us…For where your treasure (what you value) is, there will your heart be also….. In order to create a culture of Celebration, of Appreciation, of Generosity, and of Honor towards one another, we must rise above the prevailing culture of “dog eat dog”, “what I deserve”, and “I’ll get mine if no one else get’s anything”, mentality around us….                                                

Luke 6:31 Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you….                                 This “Golden Rule” would make us all, impartial, transparant, and equitable. It would destroy anamosity, envy, treachery, unkindness, slander, theft, adultery, and murder. It has been well said that this law is the gear that turns the machinery of Christianity. It would assure a moral and just society, and it’s truth is recognized as valid by all people, and all must acknowledge its force and value for good. I’m talking about behaving ourselves in a way that we would have others behave towards us.

Creating a culture of Celebration, of Appreciation, of Generosity, and of Honor is not about dragging into church, home, or the job, with a demeanor that says “get out of my way, I’ve had a bad week, and I don’t care”… or with the demeanor that says “I deserve to be miserable, grouchy, and insensitive, cause I’ve been wearing a happy mask all week and I’m tired, frustrated and over it”.

Get real, put the bear costume away and get out the “I care about you” attitude of gratitude. Each of us should ask, what kind of church would I want to attend,….then, be that kind of person so we can have that kind of church, that kind of family, or that kind  of workplace!.... Do I have an Amen?

To treat others as we would want to be treated…. To step out and be friendly and considerate, and on time, and be the person that makes someone’s day a little brighter, because we chose to be a generous, appreciative,  part of their day in a celebration to honor them as we honor God and His Children everywhere we go, in whatever we do!

As we would have others to do unto us, so let us do unto them!

Let’s start an epidemic of Thanksgiving! Let’s have a spirit of gratitude that is so contagious, that it will become viral in our homes, our community, our church and our circle of influence!                                                

Start right now by finding two people and say “Thank You” to them!

-Samuel F. Pugh…..wrote this little prayer that he prayed often….

“O God, when I have food, help me to remember those who are hungry.

 When I have work, help me to remember those who need a job. When I have a home, help me to remember those who have no home. When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer, and remembering, may I seek to destroy in me, all selfishness and complacency. Stir within me concern and compassion to help, to be generous, to be appreciative and to honor, by word and by deed, all those who cry out in need, for all that we take for granted”.

I close with Psalm 100…. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, people of every land. Serve the LORD with gladness, come before his presence with singing. Know that the LORD He is God.  It is he that has made us, and not we ourselves, we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise, be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations.

Prayer of Agreement…..

Father, I pray that I might be used more and more, to show forth Your Kingdom purposes in the earth. I pray for the transforming power of kingdom vision and perspective to be evident in my life. I now believe You for a sustained movement of concerned, compassionate prayer among us, that you might pour out Your Spirit upon us in greater and greater measures.        

Lord, I thank You in advance for transforming relationships by Your power, so that Your plan and purpose for our families and children may become a reality and a Godly force in our community. May Your people throughout this area, hear and answer the voice of God, so that with new boldness and courage, they might live out their faith before their fellow man with honor, gratitude and generosity.

Lord, bring healing to hearts and lives, for the fulfillment of Your promised blessing    among all people and that Your glory may be manifested in greater power and demonstration. Father, may Your name be glorified in and through us. May we be instruments in your hands to advance Your kingdom in our world. May we do your will     and prove through our daily lives, to be Your disciples.   In Jesus Name, Amen.

 “So Hug a little bit harder, Laugh a little bit louder, Smile a little bit bigger, Love a little   bit longer, and Care a little bit more!”….

Posted by: Charles C Elliott AT 12:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, November 17 2015

Whatever Happened To Happiness?

Little Jamie Scott was trying out for a part in a school play and his mother was concerned because he had set his heart on having a part in the event, she knew he would be very unhappy if he wasn’t chosen. On the day that parts were awarded, she went to pick him up after school and Jamie ran up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. "Guess what Mum," he shouted, and then said those words that should be a lesson to us all "I've been chosen to clap and to cheer!"

Doctor Bernard Rimland, director of the Institute for Child Behavior Research, conducted a poll to form a consensus on “The Golden Rule”. The poll concluded that "The happiest people are those who help others." A class of college students involved in the study, were asked to make a list of all the people they knew, and to label them as happy or not happy. Rimland found that all of the people labeled happy were also labeled unselfish. He wrote that those "whose activities are devoted to bringing themselves happiness...are far less likely to be happy than those whose efforts are devoted to making others happy" In His study, Rimland’s conclusion was "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (well what do you know?)

In his book, “ What Happy People Know”, Dan Baker counts twelve qualities which define happiness: love, optimism, courage, a sense of freedom, being proactive, security, health, spirituality, altruism, perspective, humor, and purpose. If folks achieve these qualities, Baker writes, "they no longer need to search for happiness-because happiness will find them."

In John 16:21&22 Jesus said,"I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man can take from you."

An Englishman, a Frenchman and a Russian were discussing happiness. "Happiness," said the Englishman, "Is when you return home tired after work and find your slippers warming by the fire and a hot cup of tea by your chair." "You English have no sense of romance," said the Frenchman. "Happiness is having dinner at a fine restaurant, as you pop the cork on a bottle of expensive wine, with a beautiful woman." "You are both wrong," said the Russian. "True happiness is when you are at home in bed and at 4 a.m. and you hear a hammering at the door and there stand the secret police, who say to you, 'Ivan Ivanovitch, you are under arrest,' and you say, 'Sorry, Ivan Ivanovitch, lives next door.”

So what is it that makes you happy?

Happiness Cannot Be Found in Getting Everything You Desire—
   Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He was an unhappy camper and he wrote: "I wish I had never been born."
Happiness is not in pleasure -- Lord Byron lived a life of opulence and pleasure, if anyone ever did. He wrote: "The worm, the canker, and the grief are mine alone."
Happiness is not found in money -- Christina Onassis, daughter of the Greek billionaire, said happiness is not found in money and the greatest proof of that is our family!
Happiness is not in position and fame -- Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: "Youth is a mistake; manhood is a struggle and old age is filled with regret."
Happiness is not in the glory of conquest and achievement--
Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept, because, he said, "There are no more worlds to conquer."

One of the wisest men who ever lived, was Solomon, and he allowed himself to be derailed by wealth and fame.

He said in Ecclesiastes 2:10 “Whatsoever my eyes desired I kept not from them, I did not withhold my heart from any enjoyment, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor… this was my portion of all I had accomplished. v11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had strived to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun”.
So where is happiness to be found? To so many folks it’s always somewhere out there…Some folks are never happy because they always see happiness as something they have yet to receive or acquire…

A very old man was asked what had robbed him of the most happiness in his long lifetime. He replied, "Things that never happened!" I suggest to you, three keys to happiness:

(1) Fret not--He loves you. John 13:1 “when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end”.

(2) Faint not--He holds you Psalm139:9 “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea v10 Even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand (God’s favor) shall hold me”. (3) Fear not--He keeps you. Psalm 121:5 “The LORD is your keeper, the LORD is your shade upon your right hand (God’s favor). v6 The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. v7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil, He shall preserve your soul. v8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore”.

Let me suggest some things you can do to increase your happiness… you can do one or two of these every day and be guaranteed 365 happy days…

1. Give something away anonymously (no strings attached)

2. Do a kindness (and forget about it and never mention it)

3. Spend a few minutes with a senior citizen (their experience and wisdom is priceless insight and guidance)

4. Look intently into the face of a baby (and marvel with amazement)

5. Laugh often (it's life's lubricant to pressure and difficulty)

6. Give thanks (a thousand times a day and it will not be enough)

7. Pray (or you will lose the way)

8. Work (with vim and vigor and vision)

9. Plan as though you'll live forever (because you will)

10. Live, love and laugh as though you'll die tomorrow (because on some tomorrow, you will)

God greatly desires for you to be happy!! The Scriptures say in, Psalm 40:16 “Let those that seek the Lord, rejoice and be glad”..., Psalm 70:4 “Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks”.... Zephaniah 3:14 “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, and be glad and rejoice with all your heart,

Isaiah 55:12 “For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice.

1Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice evermore. v17 Pray without ceasing. v18 In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

There can be no doubting that God wants us to be happy and our happiness brings Him pleasure! Christians are to be a joyful people. Abraham Lincoln observed, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Our problem comes when we pursue happiness for happiness sake…. a popular post on the internet is.. a quote by Ben Franklin, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”!!!

So, we have to then concluded that the unhappiness which so many experience in their lives, is the result of how they perceive the people, events, and circumstances which we all encounter every day in our lives.

If happiness is an end in itself, lets keep pouring down the alcohol, and popping pills, but the problem is that the pursuit of happiness in this manner never has an end in sight! No one has ever found true happiness at the bottom of a bottle….of beer or pills…

In the scriptures, “Happiness” and “blessedness” are synonymous and interchangable. Matthew chapter five is a great chapter on “happiness” or “blessedness.”

In the Sermon on the mount, Jesus said “Blessed (or happy) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God”. When Jesus says “Poor”, He is not talking about financial poverty, or about finances at all, because neither wealth nor poverty assures us of spiritual growth and blessing. Jesus is saying that the first step toward true happiness is to recognize that we need to grow spiritually, because in fact we are all first and foremost, Spiritual beings. Only those who are truly humble can recognize their need to keep growing and maturing in their spiritual walk and it is the first step in any spiritual journey.

We must not confuse true, honest humility with false humility, in which we afflict ourselves in an effort to gain praise for our self-abuse or how hard we have it. A “Martyr complex” can make you the victim instead of the overcomer. But true humility is not the false humility in which we belittle ourselves because we have poor self-esteem, and don’t like or love ourselves.

True humility is simply being honest with ourselves. We need to do an honest self-appraisal to begin this journey into true happiness. . We must start with the fact that any and everything we have is from God.

Jesus then said “Blessed (or happy) are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”.

This second step in spiritual development and true happiness is to feel true remorse for what we’ve done wrong. This is what repentance is, we are remorseful about the negative way we have effected others and ourselves because of our carnality. We will not advance, mature, and move ahead spiritually without this heartfelt remorse.

Next Jesus said “Blessed (or happy) are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”….. Meekness should not be confused with weakness. Meekness is a quite, unimposing strength. To be meek is to be strong. When we are meek, we can afford to lose face and lose arguments, even have our reputation smeared, without losing our equilibrium. When we are meek, we can listen to others without insisting they hear us first.

To be meek means not being quick to judge or criticize others, because we give them the benefit of the doubt. Meekness submits to authority, but is willing to address areas of error and wrong in a right spirit. Meekness causes wives and husbands to submit to one another in love as Christ loves the Church and gives Himself for it.

Meekness honors and appreciates the qualities of those around them. Meekness avoids arguments, and strives for peace. Meekness always has the good of the group at heart. Meekness does not retaliate or hold grudges, but forgives and restores.

Next Jesus says… “Blessed (or happy) are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be completely satisfied”.

This step toward true happiness is to ask God’s guidance for our life’s mission. Righteousness, is a deep sense and hunger, for doing what is right before God and man. It is to seek for justice and goodness in the world without judging and condemning everyone in it.

The hunger and thirst that is spoken of here, is not satisfied by making a trip to the very mountain where Jesus spoke these words, but to experience what they must have experienced as God in the flesh, spoke it and the power of its truth settled down within them. We hunger and thirst for that!

It is the constant rememberance that you were made for another world, that you were made as the habitation of God.

Next Jesus said, “Blessed (or happy) are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy”.

Happiness is sharing love and kindness and genuine concern for others, for it will always come back to you. We get back what we send out and we receive what we give out.

Mercy is the character of God reflected through us. Mercy is greatly missing from our culture today. When we are wronged by someone else, even for the slightest offense, we take them to court or rip them apart on the social media. We protect our so-called rights as an alternative to being perceived as weak. But mercy is far from weakness, it is the strength to rise above what is done to you, and respond in the knowledge that you are loved, accepted and forgiven by God.

Jesus said, “Blessed (or happy) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”.

The Greek word for “pure” in is “katharos”. It means to be “clean, blameless, unstained from guilt.” The word refers specifically to that which is purified by fire or by pruning.

For a vine to produce fruit, it must be pruned. Those who are truly “pure,” then, are those who have been declared innocent because of the work of Jesus, who sanctifies them by His refining fire and His pruning work by the word and the Spirit.

A pure heart has no hypocrisy, no guile, no hidden motives. The pure heart is known by transparency, compassion and an uncompromising desire to please God in all things. What you see is what you get! It is more than an external purity of behavior; it is an internal purity of Soul and Spirit which is acted out in life.

Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Next Jesus said, “Blessed (or happy) are the peace makers, for they shall be called the sons of God”.

Those who bring reconciliation to broken relationships, broken lives, and broken systems, are carrying on the work of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. God delights in those who reconcile others to Himself—He says “beautiful” are the feet of those who bring the gospel of peace. Do you have beautiful feet?

What has masqueraded as worldly peace is merely a temporary lull in chaos, war and strife. True peace is found only in a restored relationship with God. Those who know Christ, are the ambassadors for peace and have been anointed with a much needed ministry of reconciliation!

Next Jesus says, “Blessed (or happy) are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed (or happy) and to be envied–-are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you falsely on my account. Be glad and supremely joyful (let joy rule and reign in your heart), for your reward is great”. The beatitudes are the North Star to Happiness. They allow us to know that no matter what the situation, God can turn it around and turn it into a blessing….

What’s awesome is that God will find a way in every situation, to get His blessing to you and upon you. He guarantees it! AMEN, THE BEATITUDES ARE ALL ABOUT HAVING THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE CONSERNING HAPPINESS IN OUR DAILY LIVING !!! To know that every day of our lives, WE ARE BLESSED! The sermon on the mount is designed to position us to always be in place for the blessing, because it is ours to claim!

Charles Spurgeon said, “Happiness is being satisfied with what we have as well as with what we don’t have.”

We are told in Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness (desiring what you don’t have) and be content with such things as you have.”

Much unhappiness in people is their perception that the grass is always greener, somewhere other than where you are standing.

I woke up on Thursday morning with this statement ringing in my Spirit… Put pressure on the problem until it proclaims God’s purpose… Put demands on the difficulty until it declares God’s design and desire…

A surfer has learned to harness and to ride upon the very thing that has the power to overwhelm and crush him….He has learned to put a demand upon the wave and use it’s force to propel him forward…

Someone has suggested that Success is getting what you want; happiness is harnessing and enjoying what you actually get.

The angels did not bring the shepherds six-figure contracts for being part of one of the greatest story ever told. They brought the real thing, “good tidings of great joy”…

We Will Never Be Happy Seeking to Be Someone Other Than Who We Are…. there will always be someone, taller, thinner, better dressed, wealthier, better looking, with better personality, more likable, more interesting, with better hair, or better position, a better car, better home, and better family…on and on, infinitum… and ad-nauseum !!!

A guy went to the psychiatrist, and he says "man, You're crazy." The man tells him he wants a second opinion. He says, "Okay, you're ugly too!" (not every critic is your enemy and not every cheer leader is your friend) Someone said "Getting a tattoo means you're capable of making a decision that you'll regret for the rest of your life. How many guys have tattooed “Mary”, in big letters on their arm, only to end up marrying “Susie”!!! That’ll be a hard woman to live with!

So, be careful who you let advise you and who you let influence you…. I don’t care if they’re great friends or family…when they come into your space, their negativity can undo the prophetic destiny which God has for you….

Remember, that Destiny is not directional, but it is dimensional… Jesus said “you are in the world but not of the world”…

If unbelieving, negative folks could keep Jesus from doing not many things in their city, then they can stop you from getting to where you are going also.

In Mark 5:40 when the ruler of the synagogue entreated Jesus to come and pray for his daughter, who died while they were on their way… when Jesus arrived the first thing He did was put everyone out of the house, because of their negativity. Then He raised the child from the dead! Sometimes you have to just get away from the negative and the unbelieving, if you are ever going to arrive at your promise!

We love in others what we feel we lack in ourselves, and we would often like to be everything but what we are…The reality is that we will never be happy unless we are able to accept who God made us.

You can’t be who you used to be and who you’re going to be at the same time! So be the best You that you can be, because everyone else is already taken!

Israel, like us, had a habit of rehearsing her past. Israel had a habit of falling back into old habits, or who they used to be. They would backslide, God would spank them, then they would come back to God.. Backslide….Spanking…. Return to God.. This cycle is repeated over and over, again and again in the Old Testament. They kept stumbling over their past. Israel would never be able to occupy their God ordained future if the cycle of the past continued like revolving doors.

Every one of us has a past that affects us at some level. Like Israel, some of us have had a hard time in our past. We’ve all had failures. Some form of abuse. There have been broken relationships and hurts. We’ve all experienced past sins and transgressions.

But the past has an expiration date, and it needs to be removed from the display case of your life…it doesn’t even belong on your clearance rack…it’s not who you are anymore…you’re a new creature in Christ and your past has expired!!!

Psalms 139:13 “For You have possessed my reins (my inner thoughts and volition), You have covered me in my mother's womb. v14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. v15 My substance was not hidden from You, when I was fashioned in secret, and curiously wrought in the earth. v16 Your eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect, and in Your book, all my members were written, which in Your time were fashioned, when as yet there were none of them. v17 How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

THAT’S A GREAT DISCRIPTION OF CONTENTMENT!!

Basically, there are three kinds of people in the world–-the “wills,” the “won’ts,” and the “can’ts.”

This first kind are the ones who accomplish everything, the second kind are the ones who oppose everything, and the third kind are the ones who fail at everything, because they believe they will fail at everything.

Happiness Will Not Be Found Somewhere Else—the foolish man is always seeking happiness in the distance… the wise man chooses to grow it wherever he is at.

A certain city, hired a security guard to watch the main gate. One day someone came to the gate and asked, “What kind of town is this?” The gatekeeper replied, “What kind of town did you come from?” The stranger’s report was one of dissatisfaction, disharmony, and disgust. The gatekeeper replied: “You will find that this town will be the same as the one you left.” The man left and went on to somewhere else.

The next day, another man came and inquired of the little town. The

gatekeeper again asked, “What kind of town did you come from? The stranger gave a glowing report of his former hometown, speaking of the love, the sharing, and the goodwill which was shown by its citizens. To this the gatekeeper replied, “Come on in! This place will be just right for you, it’s the same as the town which you have journeyed from!”

Moses found out the same thing the security guard discovered…. When he arrived to deliver the Hebrews from the terrible persecution and oppressive bondage at the hands of the Egyptians, they were delighted to go and made joyful preparation to depart that dark land of misfortune.

Once on their way and the hardships associated with the new challenge of the wilderness crossing began to appear, they began to long for the

garlic, melons, leeks, onions and cucumbers of Egypt. If they could just get back to Egypt, they would be happy.

God gave them water from a rock, manna from heaven, and quail till they couldn’t eat anymore, and still they murmured and complained every step of the way. Finally, God showed them the land was truly a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of rivers and streams, orchards and vineyards, a land with plenty that was beyond imagination. But all they could see were the giants and enemies in the land.

Israel could not be happy anywhere, until they had God at the center of their hearts. I love the words of Caleb in response to the fear and doubt of the majority–-

Numbers 13:30 “We are well able to go in and possess the land”. The fearful, the doubtful and the negative will never be happy no matter where they go until their perspective changes, by putting God at their center.

Usually, when we speak of “having fun,” we know that we are talking about something that won’t last. What we mean is that we can let go and be irresponsible for a little while because we know we will have to get back to our responsibilities again before long. We can drop our inhibitions and limitations at least for a moment…

But the “joy” or happiness the Lord wants to give us is long-term, I mean really long-term. The Lord deals in things that are infinite and eternal” The happiness He wants to give will outlast our enemies, our adversities, our problems and this world!

Things change, people change, places change, friends change, careers change, economies change, BUT GOD NEVER CHANGES!!

The happiness that comes from the Lord is sustainable happiness but it is self-sustaining in and of itself. We do not often put these two words together, “sustainable” and “happiness,” but that is exactly where they belong and that’s together….. And we miss it because it is so simple.

Luke 6:38 gives it to us in a single word….“Give, and it will given unto you—good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing, it will be poured into your lap, for the measure you give will be the measure you receive in return.” This is happiness on steroids, that is highly contagious, to epidemic and viral proportions.

It is happiness that is pro-active and viral.

There is basically nothing inherently wrong with simply “getting.” If we don’t get the groceries, we won’t have health. If we don’t get housing, we won’t have shelter. If we don’t get directions, we will get very lost. Our theology says very clearly that we need to take care of ourselves, if we are to be of any use to each other. It is a question of priorities.

We have things backward if we live in order to eat, or make money, or get a promotion. It’s about working together on something we believe is worth doing. It’s about doing it simply because we want to do something worthwhile and beneficial to others. It would be nice to be thanked, but the experience will not be lessened if no one thanks you.

In Romans 13:10 When Paul said that “love is the fulfilling of the law”, he was saying that all the commandments could be summed up in a single word: “Love With a Love That Is Pro-active.” When we give others the gift of joy and happiness, we are creating a cycle of sustainable and endless happiness.

1. God highly desires that we are happy and filled with joy

  1. Happiness: A State of Mind, and an Attitude of Heart

  2. To Build a Happy Life, we need to grow our faith in God.

  3. Happiness is another way of saying that we trust in God,

  4. When God is our source of happiness, it is eternal and sustainable.

Our fore-fathers understood these principles and included in the Declaration of Independence, those memorial words…”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —— The Declaration specifically mentions three rights which human beings possess by birth as being unalienable, or those rights, which God has established and instituted to every person who has ever been or who ever will be born.

The term “unalienable” was taken from William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. It says “These rights are not transferable, and cannot be taken away except by the person themselves. They are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. No one may rightfully deny us these things. Nor, since they are "unalienable," we are not required rightfully to surrender them, except by our own choice or decision.

You forfeit your happiness, when you keep living like you used to be, instead of living like who you are in Christ and who you’re going to be….

We say thank you to the past as we wave good-by and we’re thankful for all the lessons, but we’ve learned a lot and we’re ready now for the future!

What is it that has caused you to surrender your happiness….Your God ordained “unalienable” happiness???

Someone once asked Wayne Gretsky, the great hockey player, how he managed to become the best goal-scorer in the history of the game. He simply replied, "While everyone else is chasing the puck, I go where the puck is going to be."

Stop living like you used to be, and start moving into who you are in Christ and who you’re going to be….

Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, v14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

When I look through the eyeglasses of the perfect word of God, I can see the future and it looks GREAT!

The God of love has an unfolding plan of LOVE for me. I can live without fear --being certain of this LOVE. I am a brand new creation in Christ.

I am not who I used to be! Thank the Lord. I am destined to spend eternity with God. My eternity is NOW. I have already been delivered from all the powers of darkness. Christ died for a total forgiveness of my past and present sins.

Psalm 128:1 “Blessed (or happy) is every one that fears…(gives reverent honor and worship unto) the LORD; that walks in His ways. v2 For they shalt eat the labor of their hands. Happy shall they be, and it shall be well with them”.

The word “well” means, good, beautiful, best, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, highly favored, happy, loving pleasing, prosperous, sweet, gracious, joyful, whole and glorious! Hallelujah!!

Posted by: AT 03:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, November 10 2015

Dealing With Offences

Luke.17:1 Jesus said it is impossible that offences would never come.

That means we might as well brace ourselves and prepare for offences and learn how to deal with them when they come. One of the things I’ve found out in our Christian walk is that, not all mountains are meant to “be removed and be cast into the sea”. Some are meant to be climbed, that’s when a ‘stumbling block’ becomes a ‘stepping stone’ to greater heights. And yet still, some mountains are meant to be broken through! David’s mighty men broke through the garrison of the Philistines to get water from the well for David. (2 Sam.23:14-16).

They didn’t hold a prayer meeting and hope to wake up the next day to find the Philistines all gone. That could happen, but it didn’t work that way on that occasion. First, a definition of the word ‘offence’......

In the Hebrew, it means; obstacle, enticement, stumbling block, etc. In the Greek, it also means,; the trigger for a trap or a snare, the cause of displeasure or sin, an occasion to fall, etc. And in plain English, it means; wounding of the feelings. The bible says that Jesus, Himself, can be offensive…

Isaiah 8:14&15 “He will be a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble; they shall fall and be broken, and be snared and taken.”

When Baby Jesus was brought into the temple, Simeon blessed Him and said to Mary, in Luke 2:34 “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for an object of offence.”

Do you know how many are offended in Jesus today? Many are disappointed in Him and a lot of things that can't be reconciled are blamed on Him. And we are not only talking about unbelievers, but sad to say, believers too! Jesus sent to John the Baptist in the prison,

Matthew 11:6 “And blessed is he who is not offended in Me.” Jesus warned His disciples on the night of His arrest, in Matthew 26:31 that they would all be offended because of Him. How true; that was the night Peter denied Jesus 3 times before     the cock crowed.

People were also offended at the teachings of Jesus in John 6:48-68. People were offended at Jesus in His home town because they knew Him too well in the natural to accept his claim to divinity in Matthew 13:54-57. The Apostle said, that they once knew Jesus after the flesh, (as an offence) but they now saw Him after the spirit, in 2 Corinthians 5:16. The cross of Christ was also an offence to people, in Galatians 5:11.

Some folks are offended when tribulation and persecution arise because of the word according to Matthew 13:21. Certainly we know that the message of the blood of Christ "the bloody gospel" is an offence to many.

The devices of Satan are designed to cause offences,   and let you take the rap for it.

Jesus began to tell His disciples about how He was going to suffer in the hands of the Jewish religious leaders. Peter then took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying that will not happen to Jesus. But Jesus turned and said to Peter, Matthew 16:23 “Get thee behind Me, satan! You are an offence to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

This reveals the secret to discerning satanic operations and set-ups; satan will always set a trap for you by appealing to your flesh, and to our lack of understanding of Spiritual things. He violates the principals of honor, integrity, decorum, etiquette and protocol. He knew Peter was impulsive and head-strong and was perfect for the job!

We can't use Satan's methods to accomplish God's purposes. It was the same in the temptation of Eve and the temptation of Christ in the wilderness? Bringing them to a place where their own needs would be put first, before the needs of others. Satan doesn’t want us to mind the things of God but focus instead on what we want, think and feel, as opposed to what God wants, thinks or desires.

Offences are like modern day giants that have continually kept the people of God from God’s will and His best. They either limited them, hindered them, or totally prevented them. There will always be giants, either personally or corporately as believers, whoever attempts anything for God.

So we have a choice. We can live by fear because “there are giants” or we can live by faith that there is a greater, more eternal cause. So, how can we take on the giants that we face so that we can live in the blessing, freedom and victory that God wants to give us?

The well-known story of David and Goliath gives us some powerful insights. As David viewed things from God’s perspective, he says (“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine?”). Saul had confidence in his armor, as long as David was    the guy wearing it, but David had confidence in his God. Saul was concerned about his own image but David was concerned with the honor of God .

From David the giant killer we learn how to take on the giants of offences in life. To fell the offences of life, we need a spiritual perspective. Goliath was bigger than life! He’s over nine feet tall, his armor weighed 125 pounds. The tip of his spear alone weighed 15 pounds. He was huge. Goliath challenged Israel to a representative battle—their champion against him.

When it comes to offences, you have to decide to be the champion. The loser’s people would become the slaves of the winner’s people. David saw it as a conflict between God and the forces of evil. Saul and his soldiers saw Goliath and thought, “He’s so big we can never kill him!” David saw Goliath and thought, “He’s so big, I can’t miss, no matter where I throw the stone, I’m going to hit a piece of Goliath!” David had a biblical, spiritual perspective on the problem.

If you want to win over offences, you must begin by seeing it as God sees it and know that God is in it with you. You’ll    not conquer offences, if you don’t see things from God’s perspective. It’s the starting point for victory.

Jesus said, in Matthew 5:29,30 “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you.” The word ‘sin’, also means ‘be offended’ or ‘stumble’. In the Jewish mind, the right hand represents strength, ability, authority, indispensability, etc. So when Jesus talked about them plucking out their right eye and cutting off their right hand, He must have gotten their attention real fast.

Notice Jesus wasn’t talking about somebody else’s eye or hand causing them to sin, but their very own eye and hand! Think about it. It is easier to deal harshly with others than ourselves. I believe Jesus was dealing with the truth, that we get focused on   the wrong things and we miss the important things. You will only see what you are paying attention to. Important things can happen, and you will just not notice them if you are not looking for them and most offences come       to distract us and get us off balance.

What you are looking for and at, is central. Because we must retrain ourselves to look for the right things, and not make lesser, and unimportant things the object of our focus. What am I looking for? Is the job, just about getting a paycheck,    or am I there to focus on more eternal things? Am I so busy providing for my family, that I fail to provide for my family the things that really matter? Am I so caught up with my problems and challenges, that I fail to be sensitive to those around me, who are looking and searching in their own lives? Check, check, check.

How many situations and circumstances were not what we expected, and how many places were not where we would rather be?   But in those places and in our many circumstances, God has a plan which is part of and yet so much greater than the parts which we often want them to be. The danger is that we will make the parts, greater than the whole and no one   slice of the pie, is the whole pie… The power of God is working among every terribly broken situation, through every crisis. But we only see what we’re looking for.

As you went through it on your knees, and you prayed and you needed God to show up so badly, and you never realized that God was showing up, all the time. He was showing you where He lived, and you realized that His address was right here, among us. “Jesus was standing in the midst, in His risen power, and it should have been a time of worship, and a hallowed, sacred time, but because we were looking at the wrong t  hings, we missed it when it walked right in front of us, but we were too busy being offended!

Week after week, month after month, people are standing on Holy ground, and lives are being changed, shaped, expanded, and re-directed by the faithfulness of God, and we are called to be His witnesses in the dark, broken, hard and economically-depressed places. What is important is what we are looking for. The things you are fixated on can cause    you to stumble.

Paul said In 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and bring it under subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself become disqualified.” How easy it is to see all that's wrong with everyone else and be blind to what's wrong with ourselves.

Offences are designed by the enemy to destroy inter-Personal Relationships....He is dedicated to keeping us out of harmony and out of agreement with one another. He knows he’s in big trouble when we come into unity!

The Bible says, in Romans 8:13,21, we should resolve not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way and also that it is good neither to eat or drink anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.   We can    also offend by what we say.

The bible says in James 3:2 if anyone doesn’t offend with their words, he is a perfect (i.e. mature) man, able to bridle the whole body. Some things are unavoidable, but Paul tells us "as much as possible" dwell in peace with all men... This means, deal with what you can, but don't let it be a heavy weight of guilt or regret, because some things are not about you, it's about someone's else's preferences, likes and dislikes or just their way of seeing and believing things.

If you are constantly being offended, then the devil is controlling your life, and he will keep you on that roller coaster   until you realize, you are not in charge of everyone else, and you’re allowing them to take charge of your emotions, your thoughts and your will..... We can choke on knats and swallow camels!

When the things of Christ, knock us off our high horse, it is so that we can arise transformed and made righteous. When they told Jesus that the Pharisees were offended at His teaching, he replied, in John 15:130 “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.” We can conclude from this, that Godly offences reveal and root out things like, pride, selfishness, poor self-esteem, jealousy, rivalry, etc. These things are not the plantings of the Lord and they deserve to go, so they don’t destroy us!

Think about it, when you are offended, what is stirred up in you? Your pride, of course! That is the very thing God, in His wisdom, meant for the offence to root out, and if we cooperate with Him, it must go. Fire reveals the ‘serpent’ nature,      so it can be dealt with, because he can't hide when the fire of God comes.

God Himself orchestrates some offence for   this purpose. On the other hand, if we don’t allow the offence to root out these things, then we are the ones that will be rooted out! Most folks and even Christians, don't understand the difference in conviction and condemnation. Conviction comes to bring us up, and condemnation only comes to put you down, diminish and oppress us. How then do we deal with offences?.....

First, we must begin to trust. There are many things we don’t understand, let’s learn to trust God and His word and even to trust that God is able to work in people! “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.” (Proverbs.3:5). David said, ‘when I am afraid, I will trust in You’. Trust is a function of your will, it is   a decision you make, independent of what you see, think or feel.

Psalms.23:4 “Yea though I walk through the valley of   the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

I don’t think Joseph understood why he had to go through what he went through as at the time he was going through them, but I believe he trusted God to fulfill His word and he trusted his entire life into God’s hand. That was Joseph’s antidote against offence.

Trust God In our relationships. The Bible says, love believes all things, so we believe the best about people, even when it’s hard. When we do, it provides a spring board to bring them up, instead of pulling them down.

It really helps to understand that God has to allow some things to come into our lives that may even be distasteful, in order to get us to the place He is needing us to be at the time He has orchestrated. If we are looking for Jesus, we will always find Him. There is no power on earth or in the spiritual realms that can stop Jesus from dwelling with us, in every aspect of our lives together.

Jesus enters into our lives, and He takes over our lives. What will that look like in our future? Come and see, that’s the invitation, Come and SEE, Jesus beckons and you will know where I live, I have been where you are and I am where you’re going!!!! Stay full of God’s love and His word.....

Psalms 119:165 “Great peace have those who love Your law and nothing causes them to stumble.” God’s law is the law     of love and love never fails. Loving God with all our hearts, mind and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Therefore, if we love this law, we won’t stumble.

1 John 2:10 “He who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” Have you noticed that when you are full of God and delighting greatly in His word, you don’t have room for offences?

The Bible says, 1 Corinthians 13:5 love is not provoked and keeps no record of wrongs done against it. Without even realizing it, we can hold on to I.O.U.'s (tear them all up!) We must avoid having a Judgmental spirit..... There are many things you don’t understand, so avoid making judgments about them.

Jude 10 warns us, “But some speak evil of whatever they do not understand”. Have you noticed the tendency to suspect what you don’t understand? Let’s learn from David: Psalms 131:1 “LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty, neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me.”

Jesus said we shouldn’t judge so that we ourselves be not judged. With the same judgment we judge, we shall be judged. Also, we set ourselves up for offences when we impose our convictions on others... Everyone hasn’t had your journey,   and everyone hasn’t come to the place you are. Respect people and give them their space, they have a right to be different from you.

The Bible uses the ‘Body’ metaphor to depict the diversities that exists among believers. Each body part is different from the other. Yet, there is unity in diversity! Diversity doesn’t necessarily mean disunity. Read Romans 14:1-13. Verse 5 actually says, “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” Instead of judging, be an example that will strengthen their areas of weakness and appreciate their strengths.

Just accept it, you don't have to win every battle, just the important ones! Our first responsibility is to deal with the real    issues of our own heart.... Offences are meant to uproot out of us the things that aren’t planted of God. The truth is,    there is a lot of baggage in the human nature that is contrary to God’s nature and it all needs to go!

James. 3:14 “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth.”

This reminds me of Aaron and Miriam, they criticized Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman, in Numbers12:2 “But they said to Moses: “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” In principle, they were right, but their heart wasn’t right, God wanted to speak and operate through others, working together to combine their strengths. But their real issue was Moses' choice of who he married and it showed that their hearts were filled with envy, selfish ambition, pride, and rebellion.

That was why Jesus said to those, in Matthew 7:5 “Hypocrites! First remove the plank in your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” This is envy in camouflage gear! But, camouflage doesn't work if you're color blind. Don’t Blame Others For Your Predicament....

A lot of time, we are offended at people because somehow, we think they are responsible for our troubles or situation. Adam blamed his disobedience on God and Eve, in one statement: Genesis 3:12 “The woman whom You gave me to be with, gave me of the tree and I ate.” Even Jesus was blamed for the death of Lazarus! Mary said to Him, when He eventually showed up, John 11:32 &37 “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” And some who    were around said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind also have kept this man from dying?”

Many today are blaming their lack of success in life on their parents not giving them proper education, or guidance, so they are offended in them. Yet many blame the government, their spiritual leaders, their employers, etc, for their predicament, and they are full of offences. It’s time to take full responsibility for our own life and our actions. That is    what is referred to as maturity, or becoming responsible for yourself!

So many have a fear of confrontation, and allow things to build up until they suddenly explode. That’s called being “passive aggressive”. The explosion does more damage than if there had been honest confrontation. We need to learn to confront.... Confrontation is not necessarily negative or hostile, so we don’t need to be afraid of it or run away.   To confront simply means, to bring (a person) face to face with something.

Jesus said, in Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, tell him his fault between you and him alone.” Unfortunately, we reverse the whole order… we tell   others first and he is the last to know about what he has done wrong! Then we share with others things we’ve not taken time to verify from the person concerned, because we never    got the real scoop.

We have too many phony and hypocritical relationships because we all run away from confronting issues with one another. We are so afraid of rejection, or some kind of back lash, we prefer to have shallow relationships that never go below the surface. The level of confrontation has to be measured by the level of the relationship. Some folks can easily    be offended, because no level of trust has ever been established.

These Giants in our lives, by definition, are enormous, threatening and intimidating. They want to fill up our vision, until we can see nothing else but the problem, or the fearful challenge before us. As believers, we mature on the battlefield. *…..We will never mature until we dare to meet the enemy, in the power and might of God’s Spirit within us and meet     him head on. There’s nothing like war to turn a novice Christian, into a veteran believer.

As long as we run when the giants of offense rear their ugly heads, we’ll have to face them tomorrow or tomorrow or tomorrow.   They won’t go away until we stand up and fight them. Your giants are the same way. They’ll never leave on their own. Until you stand and fight in Jesus’ name, until then, they win every time. David needed Goliath. He didn’t   realize it, of course. In the same way we need giants because we’ll never become all that God wants us to be without them. Even though you pray to be delivered from them, God intends to use the struggle you face to make you stronger, wiser and better.

In Matthew 5:23, “Jesus said if we bring our gift to the altar and there remember that our brother has something against us, we should leave the gift there and go and first be reconciled and then come back to offer our gift”. When we notice there is an unseen wall between us and another, Jesus expects us to take the initiative in restoring the relationship, and conquering the giant of intimidation, fear and division.

The deepest level of relationship should occur with married couples. it has depth because confrontation is a commitment to help each other be the best each can be. Hopefully, a strong trust account has been established to handle it. You can never draw out any more that you have deposited in your trust accounts.

It is not our roll to tell folks how to live, but we can share with them principles and values which enable them to make    the best decisions possible….The decisions are then theirs to make.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool in expanding your trust accounts. Luke 17:3 “Take heed to yourselves: If your brother trespass against you, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he offend you seven times in a day, and seven    times in a day turn again   to you, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him”. v5 “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Lord, Increase our faith”!

We don’t forgive out of feelings, or emotions, we forgive out of faith. Which is why the disciples said, Lord, increase our faith! Offence will lead to anger, evil speaking , malice, unkindness and even hard-heartedness, and the solution is, to forgive. To forgive is, to let go of the issues and to drop the ‘charges’ we have against the person.

Ephesians. 4:31&32 “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.    And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”. The unforgiving servant held his fellow-servant by the throat and said to him, in Matthew 18:28 “Pay me what you owe.”, that is the definition of lack of forgiveness. It is blind to everything except what it feels it is entitled to, or what it is owed.

Often this is manifested as delayed retribution....and it refers to the practice of storing up grievances so they may be unloaded at another time. The immediate occasion may be relatively simple, such as coming home late without calling. Instead of arguing about this, delayed retribution, unloads all the past grievances which have been accumulating interest. The birthday you forgot, the time you arrived late for dinner, the hotel reservations you forgot to make, are all thrown at you. As you know, delayed retribution inspires more delayed retribution in the other person. It’s called fighting fire with fire. The result is two people dumping their stored-up grievances on one another...and resentment and hostility escalate. Not only are we to avoid keeping a record of the negative.

We are to keep a record of the good. Try to catch people doing things which are right and proper and lovely, and let them know it. Not only will this improve your relationships, you will also enjoy greater personal happiness. It's always more enjoyable living a life surrounded by beauty which we all know is in the eye of the beholder, than to be always keeping lists of the bad. Why do people create a negative environment, that they have to live in and work in?

Proverbs 17:9 Those who cover an offense show love and inspire it in others. But those who repeat a matter come between close friends. P

roverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes.

Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:27 Anyone who has knowledge controls his words. A man who has understanding is not easily offended.

John 1:29 “The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”!

Everyone else saw the carpenter, Mary’s son, the Nazarene. But John saw Him for who He truly was. As we move through our days, and face our giants, may we see Him, in the midst of it all, moving and working in everything, through everyone He has placed in our lives, to glorify God, and then as we see that, let us make that a place of worship!!

In all of us, there is a desire to live a peaceful, joyful and tranquil life. What we often fail to realize, is that it is up to us, not others, to create that atmosphere and know that the more we grow and mature in the fruits of the Spirit, the more it will become a reality in our lives.

In the name of Jesus, we take possession and claim ownership to every God given promise, We dismiss and cancel out every image, picture and thought of anything less than total healing and restoration. We declare that every good thing devoured by the enemy be returned 40, 60 and 100 fold, now, in the name of Jesus. Let every offence be broken and   gone, now, In the mighty name of Jesus.. that would distract us and pull us away from our mission and   calling. We dismantle every assignment against our families and rip out everything that Satan has tried to insert. We declare that     we are clothed in the garments of favor and honor and that we are growing and maturing in the fruits of the Spirit. Oh  God, You are the God of the breakthrough. You are the God who bursts forth to bring the things of Heaven to earth. Release the breaker anointing now, in Jesus’ mighty name. Let the situations here on earth come into alignment with Your Will and Your Kingdom , that it may be demonstrated on earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus Mighty name, Amen!

Posted by: AT 12:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 06 2015

We Walk By Faith Not Just By Sight, by Charles Elliott

John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, “Peace be unto you”. v20 And when He had so said, He shewed unto them His hands and His side.Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. v24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. v25 The other disciples therefore said unto Him, “We have seen the Lord”. But He said unto them, “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe”.

v26 And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace be unto you”. v27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach hither your finger, and behold My hands; and reach forth your hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing”. v28 And Thomas did so, and said unto Him, My Lord and my God. v29 Jesus said unto him, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”.

We have all probably heard the phrase “seeing is believing.” It means that in order to fully accept something to be true, someone needs to see it with their own eyes. However, spiritually, it works the other way around. That is, spiritual principals would say, "I'll see it when I believe it."

Sam and his wife Gloria have had a terrible argument about money, and are going to the bank to open separate bank accounts. They have just *…..entered the bank when two bank robbers, run into the bank. Each is wearing a handkerchief around their mouth and nose and each is holding a gun. One of them points his gun at the customers and shouts out,"Listen all of you, stop screaming or else!" There is instant silence. His colleague then runs over to a cashier and yells at him, "put all the money you have in the bag." The cashier immediately complies and the robber starts to fill up his sack with the money. But as he's doing this, his handkerchief slips off. He says to the cashier, "I'm sorry to do this, but you must have seen my face." He then shoots him, and puts the handkerchief back over his face. Then turning to the trembling customers, he says, "I hope no one else saw my *…..face." After a few moments of silence, Gloria shouts out, "I think my husband might have caught a little glimpse of you."

So Sam and Gloria are the introduction to my message today is “We Walk By Faith, Not Just By Sight”?

Saint Augustine said "What is faith, unless it is to believe what you cannot see, and see what you can believe”.

Robert Brault…." Perception is a clash of mind and eye, the eye will only believe what it sees is real, the mind perceives that what it believes, is real”.

Anais Nin...Don't see things as they are, see them as they should be.

I saw a bumper sticker on a car in front of me that said "Expect Miracles." It was a reminder to me to keep myself open to expect the miraculous throughout my day, and to not miss the opportunity because of what I only saw with my eyes.

We all have a tendency to doubt before believing. When it comes to anything, we need to have proof. When we talk about proof, we generally mean genuine, physical evidence of what God is trying to get us to believe.

We often thank God for the visible signs of his grace upon our lives. But today, I want us to think a little differently. I want us to thank God for the invisible realities that bless our lives and give us eternal value and worth.

We’ve created microscopes to see microbes and even atoms. We’ve created telescopes so we can see the galaxies and stars so far away. We like to be able to see what is invisible to the naked eye. I was a child, when I received a microscope for Christmas. It fascinated me that I could see things through it that were invisible to my eyes.

We don’t have a scope to see invisible spiritual realities, at least not one we put up to our eyes. If we did, wouldn’t that be something? If I held it up to my eye right now, I wonder how many angels I could see?

But God has given us tools to be able to know these invisible realities are real. We put the eyes of faith up to these tools and we “see” and believe many things which the physical eye doesn’t see. As a matter of fact, the *…..best things about Christianity are invisible and the most valuable things we believe are invisible. I can’t see heaven, but I value it. I can’t see Jesus, but I believe in him and put my life in his hands. I can’t see the event in history that made my salvation possible. I can’t see angels but I know they are real. When I’ve watched people die, I couldn’t see them leave their bodies, but that’s what I believe happened at death. I believe that I am more than a body. I have an eternal spirit and soul. I can’t see it, but all of these invisible things, I believe and I value. I value them with my very life. In fact if you were to ask me which I value more, I value the invisible realities more than the visible realities. I believe that everything I can see with my eyes is temporary, but there are permanent and eternal things that I cannot see with my natural eyes.

2 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. v17 For our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. v18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.

Just as the microscope, the telescope, and the oscilloscope show us invisible physical things, the Bible is the best scope given to man, to understand and observe invisible, spiritual realities.

The African impala can jump to a height of over 15 feet and cover a distance of 30 to 40 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. Because they will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will land on the other side. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and we are freed from the limitations that can only be seen and known in the natural realm.

2 Corinthians 5:7 simply and beautifully says “For we walk by faith, and not by sight”

If You talk to God, you're a religious person, but if God talks to you, you're psychotic.

Those who have learned to see the invisible, have also learned to see opportunities where others only see trouble and problems!

Praise God, we are blessed to have some spiritual heavyweights around here! I recognize, celebrate and affirm you today. Without our prayer warriors, faithfully praying for God’s work to be done, this place would be shut down long ago. The enemy would destroy us. You keep sending up the aerial warfare from where you are so the rest of us can stay on the front lines. Our ministry here will go only as far as our prayers, will take us. I thank God we have a force of those who do warfare in the invisible realms. Don’t sell yourself short because you don’t wear a certain job title, or have a certain ministry job description. You are what holds this thing up and keeps it going strong!

There have been many times when the Holy Spirit has parted the veil as He did in the temple, and people have seen what is normally unseen.

2 Kings 6:15 “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.v16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered.

“Those who are with us are more than those who are against us.” v17 And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha”.

Thank God for those thin places when the dimension of the spiritual can be seen as though only a transparent veil was between the two.

When a traveler in the early days of the west, came to the Mississippi, he discovered there was no bridge. Fortunately it was winter and the great river was frozen over with ice. But the traveler was afraid to trust himself to it, not knowing how thick it was. Finally with infinite caution, he crept on his hands and knees and managed to get halfway over. And then he heard-- singing from behind. Cautiously he turned, and there, out of the dusk, came another traveler, driving a four-horse load of coal over the ice, singing as he went! The wagon driver’s confidence was based on his experience with the river. Since the traveler had no experience with the river, he also had no confidence.

You can train the eyes of your faith. This comes by training your belief system and your spirit to see and know the father’s leading. The scripture tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God. There is a connection between our knowledge of scripture and our faith.

The more we know about God, the easier it is for us to physically experience that belief. The more we know about the Bible, the easier it is to see the manifestation of our belief. The more we think like God, the easier it is to fix our eyes and our values on what is unseen.

We need to train our brain to think in the language of God’s word, then our lives would see more and more of God’s intended outcome in our world.

Three elements are involved in making a faith decision or in making any significant decision for that matter. And they are the same things that confronted young doubting Thomas….

It is the intellect, emotions, and the will. Faith that involves only the intellect is a contradiction and is a dead faith…..

James 2:14 “What does it profit, though a man say he has faith, and has not works? v17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being alone. v18 A man may say, you have faith, and I have works, but show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works”. *…..The Problem for James was that there were too many people in the church whose lives didn’t match their profession. They raised their hand, walked an aisle, prayed at the altar, and professed to believe in God and in His Son Jesus Christ, but nothing had changed in their lives. They still had worldly priorities and still lead self-serving lives. They claimed to have an experience with Christ, but they never touched others with His power.

If they weren't seen walking into church no one would have a clue that they were professing Christians.

A new pastor spent the first four days making personal visits to each of his prospective congregation inviting them to come to his inaugural services. The following Sunday the church was all but empty. Accordingly, the pastor placed a notice in the local newspapers, stating that, because the church was dead, it was everyone's duty to give it a decent Christian burial. The funeral would be held the following Sunday afternoon. A large crowd came for the 'funeral', unwilling to accept that the church would ever close, and they presumed it would always be there, in spite of their absence. In front of the pulpit they saw a closed coffin which was covered in flowers. After the pastor had delivered the eulogy, he opened the coffin *…..and invited the congregation to come forward and pay their final respects to the dead church. Filled with curiosity as to what would represent the corpse of a dead church', all the people eagerly lined up to pass by and look in the coffin. Each 'mourner' peeped into the coffin then quickly turned away with a guilty, sheepish look. For there, in the coffin, tilted at just the correct angle, was a large mirror, and what they saw was the surprised look on their own faces.

If you ask many folks, "Do you believe in God?" they say, “Sure.” If you ask, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God?” the answer is, “Yes.” You can even ask, “Was He crucified and resurrected for our sins?" and they would say "Yes, I'm inclined to believe that happened."… they might go even further and claim, "I firmly believe all that the Bible says."

Some people are professional, professors, but if it never goes beyond the head, they are not possessors of faith! Professing doesn’t always mean possessing!

I can say I believe in having money in the bank, and I can even write a check out… but if there is no money in the bank, the check is worthless!

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. There are others, who get real emotional….they cry in church, they get real stirred, when they hear stories of great sacrifice and heroism. They may be very moved by the singing, testimonies, prayers, and preaching…. But none of it has been translated into real, effective, tangible Christian living where the rubber meets the road. *…..1 Corinthians 14:17 For you certainly give thanks well, but no one is edified (built up, established, transformed).

James 2:19 You believe that there is one God, you do well, the devils also believe, and tremble. (Notice that demons believe intellectually, they believe emotionally, >they tremble<, but it makes no change in their character or nature, or who they are!)

There has certainly been enough proof all around us that without faith, no man can please God. Grace does not mean that we can do whatever we wish and still experience God’s blessing and favor, and things will change in spite of ourselves. We can know a truth and never possess the truth.

A Christian sat down at a restaurant counter, next to another Christian. The man said “See that man on TV, standing on the ledge of that 10 story building?” The other Christian says “Yes I do” The guy says “He’s going to jump you know” The other man says, “No, he’s not. Just agree in prayer with me” The other guy says “Okay, but let’s bet, just to make it interesting. Here’s twenty” O.K, answered the other man “You’re on. I’ll put mine down on the belief that Jesus will save him.” He puts down his money, and says “Now let’s pray” They pray, and the guy on TV jumps from the ledge. “Well, a bet’s a bet. Here.” And he shoves his money over to the other guy. “Forget about it, I can’t take your money. I’ve got to tell you; I saw this on the news last night” The other Christian responds, “Yeah, I saw it too, but I thought we could save him this time”

We can have faith, but it can be misguided faith, which contradicts what God desires and has already declared was His plan. We can pray that we won’t have persecution, or that the world will get better, or that everyone will be saved, or that the hospitals will empty out …..but that’s not going to happen, because we all have a free will, and the world will grow more and more wicked, and persecution will come if you’re serving the Lord and when jesus healed the lepers, there were many that were not healed . But regardless, let’s do all things possible to reach those who can be reached…We must reach all that we can, and believe for revival, YES! We believe for folks to get healed and miracles to happen, have faith, but not misguided faith…. Faith that refuses to get involved, or roll up it’s sleeves and get dirty is not faith.

We must have Faith that involves three things, the intellect, emotions, and will, that is a genuine transforming faith which is personal and pro-active. It has action and application that is motivated by love. *….For example, a young man meets a young woman. They are instantly attracted to one another. They both say to themselves, "Now there is someone I'd like to marry." At that point, if the emotions had their way, there would be a wedding. But the intellect intervenes, questioning the impulsive emotional response. Would we be compatible? What is she really like? Can I afford to support her? Both conclude it would be better to take some more time and answer a few questions before they proceed. So the two begin spending more time with each other. He eventually concludes that she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Now his intellect has sided with the emotions on the idea of marriage. But the final and heaviest vote remains to be cast -- that of the will. It stops the march toward the altar with the questions, "Am I willing to give up this lifestyle for another? What about my freedom -- is it worth the trade? Am I willing to assume the added responsibility?"

The marriage will occur only when the will finally agrees with the emotions and the intellect. The same thing is involved in any action of faith…

Sometimes faith involves delayed gratification… We usually refer to anything that delays our personal gratification… as suffering and sacrifice. If we can’t have it immediately, then we think we are on the Via Della Rosa…(The road of suffering)

The following letter was found in a baking-power can wired to an old pump that was the only hope of drinking water on a very long and seldom used trail across the Mojave Desert: it read "This pump is all right as of one week ago. I put a new washer in it and it should last five years. The washer dries out in the desert heat and the pump has got to be primed.

Under the white rock, in the shade, I buried a bottle of water, with the cork end up. There's enough water in it to prime the pump, but not if you drink some first. Pour about one-fourth and let her soak to wet the leather. Then pour in the rest medium fast and pump like crazy. You'll get water. The well has never run dry. Have faith. When you get watered up, fill the bottle and put it back like you found it for the next person. (signed) Desert Pete. P.S. Don't go drinking the water first. Prime the pump with it and you'll get all you can possibly hold."

If we have not learned self-discipline, we will drink the water and leave the jar empty for the next person. If we have never learned compassion, we’ll drink all we want from the well, and fail to put water in the jar for the next *….person. Genuine faith involves self-discipline, compassion, patience and delayed gratification.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of those that diligently (dzay-teh'-o ..having an intensity, and self-discipline within yourself to) seek Him.

It’s dangerous to look into a percolator to see how much coffee it contains while it is still percolating! The better percolators have a tiny glass tube along the side which serves as a gauge. When you see coffee in the sight tube, you know coffee is perking in the pot. If there is no coffee in the tube, you can be confident there is none in the pot. The bible tells us that we should be able to make full proof of our ministry.. there should be something in the sight glass….that shows we’re percolating!!!

Well, diligent faith is our sight glass that lets us know that something is perking in the spiritual realm and it’s about to be made flesh!

What difference has your profession of faith made in your life today?

If you were arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence from this week to convict you?

Are you right now totally in love with the Savior?

Are you serving Christ faithfully?

Are you giving generously and proportionately of your resources to further the cause of Christ?

Do you spend time meditating on God's Word and in prayer daily?" *…..The point here, would not be that by doing those things one achieves salvation. But the point would be that if your profession of faith has made no difference in your lifestyle, perhaps the reason is that it has never gone beyond the intellect or the emotions to the heart and will.

Someone has said “A faith that cannot be tested, is a faith that cannot be trusted.” We should be able to weigh our faith by our actions….When we move in the God kind of faith, the results should be the gift of wisdom….

A lady walks into a bank in New York City and asks for the loan officer. She says she's going to Europe on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000. The bank officer says the bank will need some kind of security for such a loan, so the lady hands over the keys to a brand new Rolls Royce parked on the street in front of the bank. Everything checks out, and the bank agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan. One of the employees drives the Rolls into the bank's underground garage and parks it there. Two weeks later, the lady returns, repays the $5,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41. The loan officer says, "We are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a multimillionaire. What puzzles us is why would you bother to borrow $5,000?" The lady replied, "Where else in New York can I park my car for two weeks for 15 bucks?" (now that’s wisdom!)

Faith always believes that God is up to something far more than the eye can see or the mind can comprehend! No matter how it looks, ”All things will work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes”….

Know that you know that you know, God is on your side!

When sickness comes – Believe Jesus!

When death comes – Believe Jesus!

When the bottom falls out of life – Believe Jesus!

When the answers to your prayers are delayed – Believe Jesus!

When you are ridiculed for your faith – Believe Jesus!

When you are looking at a hopeless situation – Believe Jesus!

When I place my problem beside the Lord, it suddenly grows very small. No matter how great it looks in my eyes, it is nothing compared to Him, He can handle it! A God who can create a universe from nothing can do anything, He can handle it! A God Who can part a sea, rain down manna from heaven, heal a sick body, raise a dead man, and save a lost soul can do anything… He can handle it !

It may be that you have a problem that you cannot handle. It is bigger than you are and out of control. He can handle it! He can cut it down to size! Bring it to Jesus and trust Him to do it for His glory! He can handle it!

We might be in a tough situation, but we can rejoice in Jesus! Why? We are able to see the victory that is ours through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, no matter what our eyes are seeing! We know He can handle it!!! *…..1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. v58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, He would have you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”.

Satan’s attacks will come against you, in three different areas… *…..Your Praise, Your Proclamation and Your Prosperity…He is already defeated!

We have fellowship with God, forgiveness, peace, new life, new hope, adoption as God’s children, a new nature, sanctification, deliverance from the curse, holiness, deliverance from demons, healing, health, prosperity, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, indwelling by the Holy Spirit, the favor of God and His power and authority. What we can see is only the tip of the iceberg… and what we have is out of this world!

1Corinthians 2:9 As it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. v10 But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God.

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