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Sermon of the Week 
Tuesday, June 28 2016

God Will Get You There….

I was originally going to title this message “God can get you there”…. But there are many folks who would boldly tell you what God can do, but they never take it to the next level and declare what God WILL DO!!!! Hope says He can, Faith says He will….Yes, I can say God CAN supply my needs, but beyond that, do I believe He WILL supply my needs?!!!

Let’s begin with Acts 8:25 “And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. v26 And the angel of the Lord spoke unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goes down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is a desert”.

It doesn’t just say Gaza….It wants us to know that this is a barren, dry, unpopulated desert place…..Sometimes to reach your destiny, God will take you on the road less traveled! I’m sure Philip, must have looked around and thought, what in the world am I doing here?!!! But then he sees a cloud of dust coming down this trail, through the wilderness, and as it gets closer, he sees that it is an Ethiopian in a chariot.

Philip puts up his thumb and starts hitchhiking.(that’s the traveler’s bible) The Ethiopian eunuch picks him up, gets saved, they stop and Philip baptizes him, and God does a Star Trek “beam me up Scottie”…. And Scripture says God translated Him and he landed in Azotus where he hit the ground preaching. (remember, Philip wasn’t a pastor, this was just one of the members of the church, God was using here so mightly) The Eunic goes on to Ethiopia and shares the gospel, and in no time, Ethiopia is a Christian nation….that’s right!

Let me tell you something….In order to get you there, God will wreck your plans, so your plans don’t wreck you! There are lots of things I would have changed about my life, but then I would have missed some incredible stuff, God had for me!

t’s amazing how many things the word “Surrender” is the solution for! How do I get there….Surrender…. How do I get saved and forgiven… Surrender…How do I get set free….Surrender….How do I get healed…. Surrender!

How could Moses have ever known, that when he was being driven out of Egypt, into the desert, it was so that God could train him in the desert to bring the nation through the desert to the promised land!!!? He had to be delivered before he could be the deliverer!

Moses….God isn’t mad at you, He’s madly in love with you!!! Moses, just like us, had to discover that our brokenness is the place of our increase... Our brokeness is where the limits are taken off….Our brokeness is the place of becoming! It is where God is training us for reigning!

Sometimes it seems God has abandoned us or forgotten us, but the teacher is always silent when the test begins….however, you can always know the teacher is there, overseeing the test!

God knows how to get you there….. You shouldn’t ever label yourself by the stuff you’re going through. Hey, Moses was just another basket case before he was the bold and courageous man of faith and power!

And think of this…what if Moses had judged himself by his ability to lead the nation out of Egypt and into the promised land? Come on now, he took 40 years to make an 11 day journey! Most efficiency experts would call him a dismal failure!!!! (Perhaps I should have called this message, “How to take 40 years to make an 11 day journey”)

Moses was focused on getting the Hebrews out of Egypt, while God was focused on getting Egypt out of the Hebrews! Someone say….”God can get you there”….. Friend, many who started out, didn’t make it, and not everyone who started out with you will finish with you, and you may not leave with the one who brought you to the dance!

God told Isaiah to tell His people…. Isaiah 46:4 “And even to your old age I am He; and even to your grey hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear (naw-saw'…to lift, to accept, to advance, to bring forth, to exalt, to forgive, to equip, to hold up, to honor) even I will carry, and I will deliver you”.

Defining moments are happening right now in your life, that are turning you toward your destiny….usually, we don’t realize how much God has been and already is in control. He already has solutions to every problem that you’ll ever face, and He is orchestrating it all and bringing things together for you in a way you could never even dream…..

No wonder Paul told the Ephesian believers… Ephesians 3:20 “Now He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that is now working in us”…. Would you tell somebody….”HE CAN GET YOU THERE”!

Isaiah 14:27 For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who can cancel it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

God is saying, “who can stop my plan, who is more powerful than Me, who can make a mistake so big that I can’t forgive it, or have a problem so large that I can’t solve it, a dream so great that I can’t bring it to pass?” God’s plan cannot be stopped by a bad break; all the forces of darkness can’t keep you from your destiny. No matter how small your boat, you can cross the largest ocean, if you just don’t let the ocean in the boat!!

Sometimes we think because we have made mistakes and we’re not where we want to be in life, we must have stopped God’s plan; you’re not that powerful. You may have made mistakes, but it wasn’t a surprise to God; He already had the mercy, the grace and forgiveness ready and waiting….shake off the guilt and move forward.

Nothing that you’ve done or haven’t done has cancelled your destiny. You are not powerful enough to stop God’s plan. God has the final say. You are coming into those destiny moments where you will see that God has supernaturally protected you, you are at the right place, at the right time, meeting the right people. That’s the favor of God moving you towards your divine destiny. it’s not a lucky break, it’s almighty God saying, “I’ve got a destiny for you to fulfill…. My plan will come to pass.”

You have been chosen to walk the path you’re walking….He’s already got your defining moments lined up, to show you His hand of favor. When that problem you’ve had for years suddenly turns around… When the opportunity of a lifetime is suddenly in front of you…those are defining moments that God already has lined up as He moves behind the scenes and connects all the dots in your future.

A touchdown play is a beautiful thing to watch (especially if it’s your team that just scored!)… but how many tackles, how many struggles on the line of scrimmage, how many turn overs did it take to get to that touchdown play? You’ve been knocked down, you’ve struggled to hold that line, you may have even fumbled the ball a few times…. But there’s a touchdown ahead for you…. Count on it!!!

Listen to God’s instruction to Elijah….

*…..1 Kings 17:3 “Go forth, and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. v4 And it shall be, that you shall drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there”.

I do not believe that the ravens would have fed Elijah anywhere else, nor would the widow woman have appeared anywhere else except "THERE." God did not say, "Elijah, ramble around and go where you please and I will provide for you." "THERE" was the place of God's will for Elijah - the place of His Purpose, the place of His Power and the place of
His blessing and Provision.

Sir Thomas Lipton, founder of Lipton Tea, was also a very competitive English sportsman, who won many trophies sailing his yacht, but he never could win the one trophy which he desired the most….the American cup.

One day, while showing a friend his collection of trophies which had come so hard fought and at such great expense…. with a wave of His hand, he said, "And I would gladly give them all for the one I didn't get!"

What a statement!...No matter how many of earth's awards and crowns we may gain, if we miss the greatest trophy we can receive in this life, the reward of God's approval, the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, at the end of it all, we would gladly give it all for the one we didn’t get.

Aren’t you Glad that the God who can get you there, not only can, but will redeem your regrets, so you don’t have to come to that place, at the end of it all, without the greatest prize of all…The Trophy of His Redemption, the prize of all prizes, His salvation!

Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? v37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul”?

One of my favorite songs by Steve Green is “In Christ Alone”…. It says, “Oh, I could stop and count successes like diamonds in my hands, but those trophies could not equal to the grace by which I stand….In Christ alone, I place my trust, and find my glory in the power of the cross. In every victory, let it be said of me… My source of strength, my source of hope, Is Christ alone”…..

Let’s Go back to Elijah at the brook for a moment…..You see the brook of Cherith, in the Hebrew is “kaw-rath”….and it means Covenant, and Cherith wasn’t just any place it was a covenant place…. a place where God redeemed Elijah’s regrets…. God wanted him to know that no matter what had happened, there was no situation too great for him and God to handle together!

Cherith for you, may be across the street, across the country, or it may be across the sea. But know that the God who performed all those miracles for so many others, who led His children through the wilderness and brought them into the land of promise, is the same one leading you today.

Isaiah 46:4 “even to your old age I am He, and even to your grey hairs will I carry you, I have made you and I will sustain you and I will rescue you”.

We know and serve a God who can carry us, help us, lift us up, redeem us and save us, bringing us safely to our destiny. We are weak, frail and finite. We are so easily wearied and wounded in this unpredictable world! But even In our weak and wounded condition, God has us in His hands and He carries us!

God says to His children, in the words of the 1969 song by the Hollies, "The road is long, with many a winding turn. But I'm strong, strong enough to carry you. So on we go. Your welfare is my concern. No burden are you to bear. We'll get there. You're not heavy, you're my children."

It doesn't matter if you have been saved 30 seconds, 30 minutes, 30 months, or 30 years, God will carry you! We are His from the womb. And He has pursued after us and overshadowed us with His love and grace, Jesus said, "You must be born again!" and from the moment you trust in Jesus Christ as savior, you enter into covenant with Him and He is committed to carry you forever! God has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you!"

If the Lord has carried you this far, he's not going to drop you now. You might think, "I can't make it. I'm too weak, too broken, too wounded, too messed up, I’ve made too many mistakes." The Lord says, "We'll make it. I'll get you there," and He puts you on His shoulders and brings you to your destiny.

He didn’t bring you this far to leave you, He didn’t teach you to swim to let you drown, He didn’t build his home in you to move away, He didn’t pick you up to let you down!

When God brought the 2 million to 2.5 million people, out of Egypt on their way to Canaan, Someone calculated that it would take about 4000 tons of food every day to provide enough nutrition to avoid starvation. It would take the equivalent of two freight trains, 1 mile long each, to transport the food. It would take 11 million gallons of water a day for the people to drink, cook and wash with and then there was all the livestock that needed water. All of this, in a place with very little fresh water of any kind, and then there was the problem with what they would wear for 40 years.

The bible tells us that their shoes and clothing did not wear out for the entire 40 years! They had the “Wear Ever” brand of designer clothing!!!!

If God does not bring us on the shortest and most direct path to His goals for our lives—to the place that He has promised to bring us—then He has His reasons, and we can know that it is for our best good. With God, a straight line is not the shortest distance to anywhere….

We are never where we are, without it being part of the greater plan of God, which He has gone before us to prepare for us. He can get you there, to your covenant place from wherever you may be at any time or in any situation!

Job 23:10 “For He knows the way that I take, and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold”.

On Tuesday night, I shared this with our home group….Suppose you take ten pennies and put them in your pocket and then shake your pocket, so they’re mixed up real good... But before you do, mark them in order, one through ten and then just shake them around for a while and mix them up good in your pocket.

Now try to draw them out in sequence from one through ten, the way you put them in. Putting each coin back in your pocket after you have taken it out. You draw out "one" you put it back, draw out "two" put it back, draw out "three"...and so on….

Your chance of drawing out number one is one in ten. Your chance of drawing number one and two in succession is one in a hundred. Your chance of drawing number one, two, and three in succession is one in a thousand. Your chance of drawing one, two, three, four in succession is one in ten thousand, until your chance of drawing number one through ten in succession would be the unbelievable figure of one chance in ten billion.

Now if we can't deal with ten pennies in your pocket, why do we worry about not being able to control everything in our environment? We can't. There are an Infinite number of complexities that are far out beyond our ability to control.

And yet our Father in Heaven works it all out on the Divine chess board of our lives every day, while keeping track of how that connection interacts and intersects with every other individual we encounter and affects their destinies….Wow!!!

The old song of faith declares….. “Tis grace that brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us on”!!!

God told Joshua to tell the people….Joshua 3:4 “You have not passed this way before. v5 And he said unto the people, prepare yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you”.

We have not come this way before….BUT GOD can get us there, and He will perform signs and wonders to orchestrate our ordained outcome!

The one who charts the path of the moon and the earth and the solar systems…The one who charts the course of the galaxies, the star constellations and the universes within the greater cosmos, has charted the path we take. The earth that is our home, passes through thousands of near cataclysmic perils every day and yet there are no critical collisions with other planets, astroids, comets or stars… and then we can go in the other direction….from the big things to the small things….

Matthew 6:28 “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. v29 And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. v30 Therefore, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

You and I might grab a rose and try to open it but all we would do is tear the petals out and destroy it….but God knows how to open the rose at just the right time and under the perfect circumstances. God has perfect timing as He aligns all the circumstances and events of our future

And from the great cosmic scheme, to the microscopic world, His hand is manifest…. And that same hand is guiding and orchestrating in all of our lives, as He has yesterday, as He is today and as He will tomorrow!

God Will Get You There!

Could you stand with me and give Him praise…..lay aside your worries and your fears…. And give Him praise….You can praise Him in the eye of the storm….I’ve been in a few hurricanes, and I’ve been in the eye of the storm… In the eye of the storm, you can see the devastation all around you… but you stand in a calm, still, peaceful and quite place….I sat out on the porch and watched as Hurricane Georges wreaked havoc on Key West….I watched as a roof flew by, signs, awnings, trees and many things which had been ripped away….but I was safe on the porch because the storm hit the back of the house and it blocked all the destruction from touching me… then the eye of the storm moved over… and it was perfectly calm… with destruction all around, I walked out into the street and surveyed the damage, IT WAS TOTALLY MINDBLOWING….

I remembered Psalm 32:6 “For every one that is seeking shall call unto You in a time when You may be found. Surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come near me. v7 For You are my hiding place, You shall preserve me from trouble, You shall compass me about with songs of deliverance”.

A painter saw a homeless man on a street corner, and painted a portrait of him. When he showed him the portrait, the homeless man was shocked for the painting was not a picture of how he was, but what he could be. It depicted him in a tuxedo with expensive Italian leather shoes on his feet. The homeless man said “If you see me to be that, then that is what I will be”!!

Jesus told a group of unlearned fishermen, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”…. I WILL MAKE YOU….

God has a portrait of each of us, not as we are, but as we can be, and He is showing it to us through His word, and by the inward witness of the Spirit… I trust we will take a good look, for when we do, we too will exclaim, “If that’s what you see me to be, then that’s what I can be”!!

Friend, He can and will get you there!!!!

Posted by: AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, June 14 2016

My Pre-father’s Day, Fathers Day Message

Today all our dad’s get the drift, next Sunday you get the gift!

Someone said that "Father's Day is that one time of the year when I get complete obedience from every member of my family. I tell them please don’t spend a lot of money on me--and they don't."
Deuteronomy 1:29-31 "Do not be terrified; do not be afraid. The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place."

The other night I was watching Netflix, and I found the classic movie "Maverick." Which I have watched several times before. James Garner and Mel Gibson are trying to best one another as to who is a "real man”, but this time in watching, I noticed the scene in the movie where James Garner says, to Jodie Foster, who he has been flirting with, “Thank God for motherhood. You know, without mothers none of us would be here”. To which Mel Gibson, his rival says, “Now wait just a minute. What about fathers? Without them none of us would be here either”. (I would have to say, THAT argument would end in a TIE, no matter who was making it!)
The concepts about what a real man is has changed in our society.

I want to read to you a tongue-in-cheek excerpt from a satirical book entitled, “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche”.
It says, “This was once a nation of real men, guys who could destroy an entire forest to start a breakfast fire and then wipe out an endangered species for lunch. Not anymore. We’ve become a nation of wimps. It’s not
enough that we earn a living and protect our women and children from plagues, famine, and Jehovah’s witness door knocker. Now we’re supposed to be supportive, sensitive and even understanding while we try to figure out our wives and teenagers.

And just where has it gotten us? We used to create things like the Panama Canal, the ‘57 Chevy, and the front line of the Green Bay Packers. It worries me that 10 million years from now we’re going to be remembered as a generation that created frozen yogurt, salad bars, and green, disgusting tasting health drinks. It’s no wonder that things are so mixed up. Yet strength and bravery are still the hallmark of a real man.

nWas Humphry Bogart ever lonely because he couldn’t have a meaningful dialog with Lauren Bacall? Would we have won World War II if we had just thought Hitler was only going through a mid-life crisis?

Real men have always lived by one simple rule: never settle with words what you can accomplish with a flame-thrower. As a general rule, real men won’t eat anything that is poached, sautéed, minced, blended, glazed, curried, flambayd, or stir-fried. You’ll never find pate’, bean curd, hummus, asparagus, Sushi or creamed spinach in their stomachs. NO!

A father once offered the preacher $1,000.00 to do a funeral for his son. The father was the worst sinner the minister had ever met and the son was a close second. There was only one stipulation the father gave to the minister, and that was this….. he had to refer to the son as a saint in his sermon. The day of the funeral, the preacher got up and said: this man was a drunk, he was a cheat, he was thief, and a liar, but in comparison to his father, he was a saint. (the minister got the $1,000.00)
But with all that…Men in our society are going through a very real transformation. There is a subtle revolution happening in this country. It is happening in a big way in the “Real Men” category, and it may actually be a good thing.
In the past on any given Sunday in the old days, you would find 90% of the people in the congregation to be women because they were more open and concerned, spiritually. Men are now in the congregations. Men are seeking spiritual direction. We are going, in consciousness, from a Rambo, just blow it all to smithereens mentality, to an awareness of our spiritual need”. And THAT is a wonderful thing! (do I have an AMEN?)
One man said, “ I became what I consider a real man on the day my daughter was born. With all the joy that it brought, it also brought a great deal of concern that I needed God to be there when I couldn’t be. He said “I was at the hospital, I was suddenly faced with something I didn’t really know about. In this unpredictable and sometimes scary world we live in with so many dangers, could I protect her and keep her safe.

Will I be good enough? Will I be a good father? After all, I’ve never been a father before and she didn’t come with an owner’s manual. To be honest I never read the owner's manual, I just figured I could man up and just get through it, but I never had anything this precious, this priceless, this fragile and so totally dependent on me before."
There’s a marvelous book called “Parenthood Without Hassles, (Well Almost Without Hassles)”. I want to share something from it with you… it has, A Child’s Ten Commandments to Parents. So check this out…
1. My hands are small, and my skills are developing, so please don’t expect perfection whenever I try to make a bed, draw a picture, or throw a ball. I’m not an adult in a little person’s body. My legs are short, so please slow down so I can keep up with you.
2. My eyes have not seen the world as yours have. Please let me explore safely and don’t over protect me… I’m going to fall, get scraped and bruised, and get dirty, just be there when I look for you.
3. Housework will always be there. I’m only little for a short time.
Please take time to explain things to me about this wonderful world, and help me to experience it as a fun place to be. Take me for walks and let me play because that’s how I learn.
4. My feelings are tender. Please be sensitive to my needs. Don’t criticize me all day long. You wouldn’t want to be nagged for your curiosity. I need to know why, how, when, where and what.
5. I am a special gift from God. Please treasure me as God intended you to do, hold me accountable for my actions, give me guidelines to live
by, and give me love in a loving manner. I feel safer when you do.
6. I need your encouragement to grow. I know there are many things to learn but I do better with positive motivation. Remember, you can critique the things I do without criticizing me.
7. Please give me the freedom to make some decisions concerning myself. Permit me to fail so I can learn from my mistakes, as long as I know you’re there to catch me and point me in the right direction. Then someday I’ll be prepared to make the kinds of decisions that life requires me to make.
8. Please don’t always do everything over for me. Somehow that makes me feel my efforts didn’t quite measure up to your expectations.

9. I know it’s hard, but please don’t compare me with my brother or sister or other children, who may have talents that are different from mine. Help me discover and develop my uniqueness.
10. Please take me to church, because I need you to set a good example for me to follow. I enjoy learning about God and I need that balance in my life. Read me bible stories and teach me how to pray. It will be the foundation I will need for my own children…..
Isn’t that great?!
The greatness in all of us is tapped into and it flows at unexpected times. We find that very significant things happen at seemingly insignificant and ordinary moments in our lives…..

George Foreman was a two-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world. In his book, God in My Corner, Foreman explains how his father pointed him to that destiny as a small boy….he says..

“When I was a small boy, my father planted a seed of greatness in my mind about my future. As we played, he often raised my hands over my head as if I had just won a boxing match, and he’d shout, “George Foreman, heavyweight champion of the world! Stronger than Jack Johnson. Hits like Jack Dempsey!” Even though I didn’t understand what heavyweight champion of the world meant, he planted an idea in my mind that eventually became a reality. It’s incredible that he declared those things about me, almost like a prophecy about my future. It’s even more amazing that I would not only become heavyweight champion, but also come back from retirement and win it a second time twenty years later. My father started proclaiming my destiny when I was only four years old and continued saying it until I was a teenager and joined the Job Corps after moving to California.”
Becoming a dad, is easy enough, but being a real father can be much more difficult. On top of being a provider, protector, and a playmate, it is a father’s job to be strong but gentle, decisive but fair, and a mentor who is a friend. It is also a father’s responsibility to see that his children learn to use their gifts and abilities to the fullest. The ideal father enforces his rules by the example of his life.

To his children, most fathers are a combination of Superman and Santa Claus… As one child put it, “My daddy could climb the highest mountain, swim the biggest ocean, fly the fastest plane, and fight the strongest tiger. He could build a castle and be king, even though most of the time he just agrees with my mom and takes out the garbage.”

By the time most of us realize that our old man was usually right, we have kids of our own.

Today I just want to spend my time preparing all of us to value the life opportunity our Fathers have given unto us, which we will celebrate next Sunday. As Mel Gibson said “None of us would be here without our dads”.
A little 8 yr. old girl named Scarlet, who comes with her friend on Tuesday night to our life connect meeting, asked me after the meeting, if I was voting for Trump. (I thought that was a bit beyond her pay grade) So I asked her if she was voting for him. She responded by telling me, “Pastor, kids can’t vote, but if the adults would change the rules, we could,” I asked her, “If we changed the rules, who would you vote for?” She said, I would vote for Santa clause, so I could get lots of presents!” I don’t think she’s that different from many voters today who want the government to be their sugar daddy!

I want to say that no matter how well or how badly your father did by you, God embraces you and loves you fully and completely. You need to know without a doubt, God loves you with an unconditional love and acceptance. God tells all of His helpers everywhere, (and He has lots of them) to bring forth the best of everything for you and in you.

The last words of Martin Luther King Jr., the father of the civil rights movement, were… “OK. I will”, which was the way he lived his life, with faith, courage, and a vision which was for a cause far greater than himself…

Wow, I came across this and I almost shouted…What if every man lived his life with those words lifted unto God, as a father, as a husband,

as a contributing member of society.. “OK, I will”, no matter what the hardships, tests and challenges, “OK, I will”. Now that’s a real man!

Our Lord, looking up to God the Father, in a garden of prayer, prayed, “not my will but Thy will be done”… In other words, “OK, I Will”… If we had more men, saying those words in prayer, we wouldn’t be trying to kick God out of school, out of the womb, out of business, and out of government…. “OK, God, I Will”!!!

The other choice I am thinking of, can be summed up in the last words of another historic man, Winston Churchill, who’s final words as he passed from this life. were…“I’m so bored with it all”…Listen, if you pray “OK, God, I Will” every day, the last thing you’ll be, is “bored with it all”!! The secret of living life well, begins and ends with those powerful words, “OK, God, I Will”!!!

Just like Jacob, who wrestled with the angel of the Lord, It is crucial that we settle this conflict of man's will, with surrender to God's will. The flesh with all its lusts and cravings, could be summed up in the words “SELF-WILL”. Wherever you read of "the desires of the flesh" in the New Testament you could replace that phrase with "Self-will and self-centered desires." As we accept that reality, as a guiding life principle, we can come to terms with what those words “If it be Thy will”.

It means saying, "Father, I have no desires or plans or ambitions outside the circle of Your will for my life. I want nothing outside of Your will." The cross stands at the point where God's will intersects with our will every day. To take up the cross is to say, "Father, not my will but Thine be done."

Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23"If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me". He also says,

Matthew11:29 "Take My yoke (dzoo-gos'…that which brings you into harmony or agreement) upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls (or your will)." The Lord is saying that rest, peace of mind, and a sense that all is well, comes when we surrender our will!

Why are we on this earth? The answer is in Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for You have created all things, and for Your pleasure they (we) were and are created”.

The Lord’s prayer which Jesus taught us to pray, has three requests in it..

1. We are to pray, "Father, Let your Name be hallowed. When God made us in His image, He hardwired us for a special relationship with Himself. That means He is to have a special place in all we do, that nothing else can even come close to it. All petitions, all supplications, all passions, all requests, all needs are become subject to Him. When we do this, amazing things begin to happen… God is activated and as we touch His heart, and His hand is moved into action. We start with a recognition that God is our source, that God is our loving, caring Father who has no limits. He is a compassionate, caring, loving, gracious, merciful Father who seeks the best for His children and has no limits that can be placed upon His provision.

Abraham knew it and Rebecca appeared to be the bride of Isaac. Jacob knew it and Esau's mind was turned after twenty years of vengeance. Moses knew it and Amalek was struck down. Hannah knew it and Samuel was born. David knew it and Ahithophel, his enemy, was defeated. Isaiah and Hezekiah knew it and 185 thousand Assyrians were dead in twelve hours. Daniel knew it and lions were muzzled. Mordecai and Esther knew it and Haman, who wanted to destroy the Jews, was hanged on his own gallows in a mere three days. Nehemiah knew it and the king's heart was softened. Elijah knew it and a three-year drought ended. and on it goes, Hallowed be Thy name oh Lord!!

2. We are to pray, “Let your Kingdom come”. Whenever we pray this, it is to believe and expect that the kingdom of God will come in a way that it has not yet come, or been revealed. The coming of the kingdom, or reign of God, does not occur at a given moment in time. Instead, the coming of the kingdom involves a series of events that occur over a period of time.

When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we are praying for the continued extension of God’s reign on earth. We are praying for God to convert the hearts of His enemies, bringing them to confess Jesus as Lord. We are praying that He puts those who refuse to submit beneath His feet. We are praying for the coming of the day when all evil, all sin, and all rebellion against God is finally eradicated. We are to live with an uncontainable joy and expectancy to see His kingdom rule increase daily in our lifetime!

3. We are to pray, “Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Many have distinguished between the Sovereign will of God or (those things which God has pre-disposed or pre-determined Himself to do) for instance, the rapture, the tribulation, and the millennial period which follows, are pre-determined.

Then you have the free will of God or (those things which He does which are not set and which can be altered). For instance, no matter what we have done with our lives, the point at which we surrender and submit to Christ, is the first day for the rest of our lives. It is in the free will of God that the transformative power of redemption, our coming back to God, shines the brightest! It is the goal that is reached in spite of our sin and our turning away from Him. Your destiny changes at whatever point you receive Christ and surrender to Him. That’s why we call it “being born again”!!!

While it is God’s will that everyone come to Christ, we have a free will to reject Christ. And choose eternity without Him. The will of God is about guidance. Some seem to have the picture clearly, or so they think and others do not. You could compare it to trying to point satellite dishes in the right direction in order to pick up the signals that will allow you to access the programs being broadcast. But is it God’s intention for His will to be so unpredictable as it comes through our impressions, our urges, our dreams, through circumstantial situations or the stirrings of our conscience?

Hey I have a really novel idea…. What if we really get to know the word of God and how it applies to our lives, to discover His will!!!

2 Timothy 3:16&17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, reminding, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work".

The Westminster Confession of Faith, the standard confession of the Church of England and Scotland, says…"I believe that the whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, such as man's faith, his life and his salvation, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be interpreted through Scripture”.

Isaiah 30:21 tells us what that looks like…"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you shall hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it".

To accept the will of God means we enter into a sense of renewed purpose, a resolve of spirit, and the strength and stamina to do as God calls upon us to do.

It is good to know that The will of God will never take you, Where the grace of god cannot keep you, Where the arms of God cannot support you,

Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs, Where the power of God cannot empower you, and where the presence of God cannot protect you…..

So, we see that the Lord has given us three petitions that are all about putting God first… They are concerning His name, His kingdom, and His will. These are to be our preoccupation. We too often put ourselves at the center forgetting that God may have something entirely different in mind for us."

A failure to give God all the glory is at the heart of our frustration and discontent in our lives. Jesus speaks some amazing and powerful things concerning those who will make the will of God, their priority….

Matthew19:26 “With men it is impossible but with God, all things are possible”. What about it….are there those who would be hungry enough for more of *….God, tired enough of the same old, same old, and ready to take it to a place you’ve never dared to take it before…and say to the Lord, “Not my will but Yours be done”

Posted by: AT 01:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, June 08 2016

….Our Living Hope

Even though tragedy may test us and tempt so many to just give up and stop trying….deep down in the depth of our being, we know that life has an ultimate and greater purpose than what we may be experiencing at the moment. To lose hope is perhaps the most tragic thing that can ever happen in anyone’s life. For this reason, we keep going and we keep believing that no matter what, sooner or later things will break, and everything will and can change for the better.

1Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has rebirthed us unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, v4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that will not fade away, and is reserved in heaven for us…”  

The great New England preacher Phillips Brooks was noted for his poise and quiet manner. At times, however, even he suffered moments of frustration and irritability. One day a friend saw him pacing the floor like a caged lion. "What's the trouble, Dr. Brooks?" asked the friend. "The trouble is that I am in a hurry, "but God isn't."

David the psalmist declared that his times were in the hands of Jehovah. That tells me this truth, that David believed in God’s timing, and trusted that His timing was always best! Just because God doesn’t operate within the realm of timing which you may expect Him to, doesn’t mean He doesn’t want to bless you….

Do you truly believe beyond the moment you may be struggling with, that God wants to bless you real big, that He wants to show you His love in ways beyond your highest expectation?

Most of us have had the experience of blowing out the candles on our birthday cake, only to see them go out and then burst back into flame again. Someone put trick candles on our cake, and you can blow them out as many times as you want, but they’ll always burst into flame again! That’s what it’s like to be a Christian, serving a living Lord…to truly believe ”Because He lives, we shall live also”. All the winds of persecution and adversity, all blowing against our lives, can never extinguish the resurrection power within us, if we understand who we are and what we have been given.                        

The question the Devil often asked of those who would dare to take the word of God literally and stand and believe in faith….is “Who do you think you are”? We must respond with clarity, and deep conviction….                                                                                                                                 conviction and courage the following:

We are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14)….We are a city on a hill. (Matt. 5:14)…..We are people of the Word (1 Kings 8:56)….We are salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16)….We are prophetic and not pathetic…..We are disciples, witnesses and Christ followers (Matt. 28:16-20)…..We are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11)….We are children of the cross (Rom. 8:17), the fruit of the empty tomb (John 12:24) and the product of the upper room of a Pentecostal outpouring (Acts 2)…We are the redeemed of the Lord (Ps. 107:2)….We are the sheep of his pasture (Ps. 100:3)….We are forgiven, free and favored, for we are called and chosen (1 Pet. 2:9)….We are warriors who are worshippers (Ps. 144:1)….

We are world changers and history makers (Mark 16:15)……We are the church of Jesus Christ, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against us (Matt. 16:18). Hallelujah! .....

1 Peter 1:5 “For we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. v6 Wherein we greatly rejoice, though now for a season, it may be through manifold temptations: v7 That the trial of our faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: v8  Whom having not seen, we love; in whom, though now we see him not, we believe, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: v9  Receiving the glorious end of our faith”…….

Peter in this scripture, and our opening text, describes Our inheritance as being incorruptible.  The Greek word is aphthartos {af'-thar-tos}, meaning "not subject to corruption or decay, imperishable".

Unlike this present heavens and earth in which now live, which will one day be destroyed –Our inheritance is undefiled. The Greek word is amiantos {am-ee'-an-tos}, meaning "not defileable, unsoilable, resistant to contamination, stain free". It’s substance is embedded with the materials of eternity.

Our inheritance does not fade away, dim or diminish over time. The Greek word is amarantos {am-ar'-an-tos}, means "unfading, regenerative, evergreen". This word is a variation of the word "amaranth" which was the name of a mythical flower whose bloom was perpetual and whose loveliness and fragrance never faded.


 

Paul says in Hebrews 10:19 “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. v20 By His death, Jesus opened a new and living way, through the veil and right into the Most Holy Place. v21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over all of God’s house, v22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. v23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to this living hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise”.

We have a "living" hope: Because God is merciful and that will not change! Because Jesus is alive and that will not change! Our inheritance will not change, because God’s word of guarantee is an unchanging word! He has committed Himself, the Holy Spirit and the Holy, mighty angels to assure the culmination of our faith!

No matter what we have done, God’s love will not and cannot change toward us… His love is never a setting sun but only a rising sun. The only reason He would ever chastise us or allow His justice to come to bear in our lives, is so that we can enjoy more and more victory in our lives. The roots of His righteousness and truth grow inward, but their fruit grows and is demonstrated outwardly.

He does not condemn us but brings conviction upon our hearts of truth and righteousness. When we are saved, we receive righteousness, but often we fail to receive, acknowledge and apply it to our present lives at a daily level.

It’s time to step out of the fog of indecision…. -- Am I living a life worthy of the calling I have received? – Am I following Christ and living out His message in my life daily? -- Paul said that the life of a disciple was a choice -- we could choose to truly live for Jesus -- to give our all for Him because He gave His all for us -- we could choose to be all that we can be in Christ -- and enjoy the amazing privilege of winning the ultimate victory! What type of life do you want to live? -- the choice, after all, is one we each must make every day!  It’s time to choose victory, and happiness and living hope!!!

I can’t do any better than He has already done towards me, but I can improve in the area of receiving what He has done for me.

Before the battle is fought, victory is assured. Before the sickness, healing is accomplished. Before the trial, the triumph is guaranteed . Before we face the unknown, the answer and destination has been given. Before satan came up with your problem, the Lord already ordained your victory!

Do you remember how exciting it was when you held the paid in full deed to your car in your hands! You make payments on your house each month, knowing that one day, you will own the mortgage. No more payments, no more strained budget. It will be paid in full!

Every payment has in it, the seed of fulfillment. But what if someone just paid off your mortgage? Wouldn’t it be foolish for you to keep making payments. But that’s what we do if we keep trying to do what Jesus has already paid for!

The word Jesus spoke from the cross, in the Greek was ““Tetelestai.” (Tet el es tie) Or the final payment is now made”. By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope…. A living hope is one that will never die. A living hope is about refusing to live life in the past, it is also about living life beyond the present.. no matter what it may look like!                                                                  Adam abounded with incredible potential from the moment he was created, the sky was the limit, but he chose instead, the forbidden fruit, and then he allowed himself to set up camp and be identified by that tree of transgression. By doing so he became the prisoner of his own limited belief system and was unable to move beyond the present and enter into the living hope God had prepared for him in the future. Satan wanted to keep him from becoming what he was designed and created and planned by God to become.

Because of the limits placed by the Jewish law, if the apostle Peter were alive today, he would not be able to eat any pork chops, lobster, crabs, conch chowder, or turtle soup…(so sad) but three times on the roof top of Cornelius’ house the Lord offers these very items to him, and tells Peter to not call anything un-kosher or unclean that God has declared kosher. You see the law and religion, can bring you to righteousness, but it can never make you righteous. But folks want to produce their own righteousness, through goodness, good works, charitableness, and kindness.

Peter was making a huge transition from hope that came from the law, to the “living hope” which comes through the righteousness of Christ. The Lord was bringing Peter out of a performance based belief system and into a grace based way of living.

Our challenge is that all of us were called -- all of us were chosen by God to live out life as true believers of Christ -- which means making Him our source for every area of our lives, and by doing this, we cannot remain the same, because of the transformative affect in that relationship. We are willing to allow ourselves to be constantly reinvented through a “Living Hope” attitude and outlook.

As we step over into the “Living Hope” God has for us, we can declare daily….”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 understand unconditional love…”

God has provided, through Christ, through the Holy Spirit, through the powerful angel messengers, through His infallible word, through the prayers of the intercessors, through circumstances and situations, everything possible for us to Fulfill our ministry…and to experience victory in every battle and conflict….

Do what God has told you faithfully, with determination, passion, dedication and integrity. Do it until he gives you something else to do. Be 100% where you are while you’re at the place you are!

2 Chronicles 20:17 God told Jehoshaphat…”You shall not need to fight in this battle: prepare yourselves, stand still, and see that the salvation of the LORD is with you. Fear not, nor be dismayed. At the right time, you shall go out against them: for the LORD is with you”.

Let me give you Nine reasons that we often miss the victory that God wants to give to us….these are things which may help us to Avoid Fighting Unnecessary Battles…

*1. Don't fight over something that's none of your business, or that you can't do anything about. The outcome of some things is already decided and all you’ll do sometimes is get in the way and muddy the waters…. Pick your fights, and make sure you’re fighting the right ones for the right reasons! My mamma told me, “don’t try to win them all, but win the ones you pick”

*2. Before you argue with someone, think about the consequences of the argument. Is the aggravation, the stress and the repercussions really worth it? How many times do we win a battle and lose the war!  And the outcome isn’t worth the effort….

*3. Determine first, what the conflict is really all about.  Once you determine what the conflict is actually about, then decide if it's worth even bringing it up. If it is, be sure to address the real issues, not the superficial, emotional ones. How often do conflicts start because of something that has nothing to do with what is happening at the moment, but it’s a carry-over from a previous conflict or disagreement! So you’re really just finishing a previous argument! It’s like (to be continued)

*4. Make sure the argument is going to solve something. Make it a win, win situation… hopefully, with no losers… Kenny Rogers’ advice is … “you’ve got to know when to hold up, know when to fold up, know when to walk away, know when to run”!!!

A lady was bitten by a dog and she had the dog taken in and checked to see if it had rabbis. The report revealed that the dog actually did have rabbis, and the lady took a sheet of paper and began to write down names. The Doctor said, Mam, you don’t have to write your will, this is not fatal, it’s very treatable. The woman said, oh, I know that, I’m making a list of all the folks I’m going to bite, before I get treated!

*5. Don't fight just because you "feel you've been challenged." This is all about control. Someone has dared to enter your space without your permission and your response may be that you have to defend your space…. Most of the time just saying you’re sorry, is enough, and you both go on your way… an apology is the best strategy unless you’re just looking for a fight…..and then, you better know what you’re doing!

*6. Ask yourself, "Is it really a big deal?" Chances are that it's not. And chances are that you or the other person is tired, had a bad day, or got some bad news, and this has caused some venting on someone else….who has nothing to do with your underlying issue.

*7. Realize that you don't always have to have the last word, and often it takes the "bigger person" to simply let the conflict go. Don’t be a right fighter, but instead, it’s OK to let someone else win one, sometimes….   Has anyone heard the term “Silence is golden”????

*8. Ask yourself, "Am I really right? And does it matter if I'm right? Is there really a 'right or wrong' for this issue?" How often does conflict occur simply because of someone misunderstanding someone, or judging the situation improperly… to err is human, to forgive is divine!

*9. Is this an issue you'll remember in five years…. Or in one year or six months, even? If not, don't fight it. It’s a lot easier to live with a good memory than a bad one, so choose to make good memories that you’ll enjoy looking back on…There’s already too much negativity in our lives and enough regret, without creating more!!! Make sure you put an expiration date on all your fights!! And put an expiration date on all your hurts, rejection, and emotional wounds….because you’re not that person anymore… and it has no place in your present life. Tell those things, “your time is over, you don’t belong here. I’ve moved to a new place, and I leave no forwarding address.”

The Lord of Lords is still the miracle maker still today!!! Believe it!! Anything Jesus has done before He can do again. 2. Anything Jesus has done anywhere in the world, He can do here. 3. Anything He is doing for anyone else, He can do for you and me.

Acts 10:43 tells us He is no respecter of persons. He supplied needs by supernaturally feeding the hungry on five different occasions; He provided tax money; He stood in the boat and calmed the storm, He walked on water, and He prophesied into their lives, and it came to pass.                       

What an awesome promise He made when He said to all believers….                                                                                                             John 14:12 “Greater works than these shall you do also”

He did His miracles anywhere and everywhere that a miracle was needed… at weddings, funerals, graveyards, synagogues, houses, mountains, downtown, in the country side, at pools, and deserts. Is there anywhere we can allow Him to use us?

How did He perform miracles?....In every way possible… He prayed, He touched, He was touched by others, He wept, He groaned, He died, but always, He was moved with compassion. If we can believe, if we can touch, if we can weep, or groan or be moved with compassion, He will still heal and do miracles today!!!

He provided what was needed for the situation….

He gave Moses a rod.  He gave Elijah a mantle. To Samson, He gave long hair, which was his covenant of strength… to Shamgar, He supplied a jawbone, to David He provided a sling and a harp, Esther had her beauty, and Joseph had his dreams. And He has available for us, what is needed to show forth His glory in the “whatever” and “wherever” of our lives!!!

Moses had a stammering tongue, Jacob had a limp, Abraham was old, Sarah was barren, Peter had a temper… they all had things to overcome, but they believed the message that is given to us all….                         

Philippians 4:13  “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”. We all have the ability to say what He says. •  We can do what He tells us to do. • The only hands He has to use are our hands. • The only mouth He has to use is our mouth. • The only faith He has to use on earth is our faith. •  He has not changed, and He is the same. •  We have the same message as Paul, Peter, Matthew and John•  We have the same Jesus. •  We have the same power that was available to all of them.

I like the story of the seven-year-old boy who was given a school assignment, to write about the secret of life… He approached an old man sitting in front of a garden pool, he looked up into his eyes, and said: "My mommy said that you're a very wise man, could you tell me, what is the secret of life?" The old man looked down at the youngster and replied: "I've thought a lot about that, in my lifetime, and the secret can be summed up in four words: He said….

The first is "Think." Think about values you wish to live your life by.

The second is "Believe." Believe in yourself based on what you've done about the values you're going to live your life by.

The third is "Dream." Dream about the things that are possible, based on your belief in yourself and the values you're going to live by.

The last is "Dare."  Dare to make your dreams become reality, based upon your belief in yourself and your values.

And with that, the old man, Walt Disney, repeated the words to the little boy, that he had used all his life…."Think, Believe, Dream, and Dare."

God is bigger than your past, He is more powerful than your pain, He is stronger than your anger, He is greater than your fear, He is deeper than your scars, and He has overcome this world, so that you can overcome it, as He lives Big in You today!!                                                                                Jeremiah 30:17 “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, says the Lord”….

Our Prayer Today….is a dangerous prayer, and it will mean that some new things are coming, and it may not always be easy but it will always be worth it!!! Because we choose to live out this “Living Hope” that is greater than our past and goes beyond the present!!!

“Lord Jesus, may I come to understand, that blessings are everywhere, if I will choose to look for them. May I know that my attitude will affect the outcomes which I expect and that challenges are often gifts that You have sent to me in disguise. May I trust that most things will get better and improve with time, because I will not be the person then, that I am right now. Because of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in me, I can trust that my instincts & gut feelings have value, and are an extension of Your stirrings within me.

Lord, Your word gives me assurance that a positive attitude based on Your character of mercy, grace and love, will always cause everything to go smoother because You are working things out for my good and Your glory, every moment in my life. May I come to See that you have placed me in Your body with skills & talents that You can use, to be a positive influence on many people. May I come to value each moment of every day because each is a blessing to be enjoyed and may I value each person as unique & important to You.

Jesus, thank you that each moment of my life has meaning and purpose, far beyond what I can see and understand at any given time. May my spirit be open and accepting, of those things which I might not otherwise understand or accept. Renew my spirit with each opportunity and challenge that expands my skills and awareness, opening up areas and abilities in me as I move through each new experience. I seek to walk in Your blessing and favor as I move into the future You have chosen for me. Allow me see and grasp the possibilities which arise each day. I greet whatever awaits with vibrant faith and unending joy.

I realize that at times I must forsake the comfortable and familiar, in my quest for the best, for you have made my life, an adventure of discovery and you have gone before me to prepare all my tomorrows with the blessing of new places, new things, new friends, new opportunities, and new challenges.. Let me fully appreciate and receive them all, in Your time and choosing, and I thank You Father, in Jesus name, Amen”.
 

Posted by: AT 08:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, June 02 2016

Giving Away Your Freedom

We have just commemorated Memorial Day Weekend…. It is a time when we celebrate the price that has been paid for the freedoms we enjoy and that we all hold dear. Many have sacrificed so much, so that we could occupy the land of the free and the home of the brave. And many have given some but so many have given all! It behooves us to never take for granted what it has cost to pave the highway of liberty. Could we take a moment for prayer as we honor those then and now, to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude…..

    Heavenly Father, as we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we also think of all the brave and courageous men and women who relied upon your guidance in establishing this great country with prayer and great sacrifice. Hold our service men and women in your strong hands. Cover them with your sheltering grace and presence as they stand in the gap for the liberties we all enjoy. We also remember, lift up and strengthen the families of our troops, and ask for your unique blessings to fill their homes with your peace. May Your provision and a united sense of purpose, Lord, come and fill up their lives. We pray that the members of our armed forces be filled with courage and Your peace to face each day. And may they trust in Your mighty power to accomplish each task before them. Let our military brothers and sisters feel our love, our prayers and our support, each and every day, In the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen.

    One of the greatest challenges we will face in this year ahead, in our physical life and our spiritual life is to avoid becoming the victims to second- best. Second-best, is about settling for less than we could have….it is the downward path in the subtle journey of surrendering the freedoms we have been given.

    When this begins to happen, we begin to take for granted what we have because we focus instead on all we don’t have. Or, we  just settle for whatever the currents of life bring our way….. Drifting with the current, instead of powering our way towards the God given direction that we are called and anointed to occupy. Luke 10:19 has promised…“See what I’ve given you? Safe passage, power over the enemy’s power and protection from his assaults. He shall not be able to overcome you….”

    We are not entitled to having an easy go of things, and it is a given, that If you are going to make any head way in this life, you will have to apply yourself, be diligent, and prove that you are trustworthy. If you are going to make any headway with your spiritual life, you are going to have to be a “3-D” person….disciplined, dedicated as a student of the word, and diligent in practice and principal.   We cannot afford to be the victims of a second-best mentality, or settling for the path of least resistance…..

    A pastor had decided to put sanitary hot air hand dryers in the rest rooms at the church to cut down on paper supplies, but after just two weeks he took them all out. The leadership asked him why and he confessed that they had really worked fine but when he went in that week, he saw a sign that read: "For a sample of this week's sermon from our pastor, please push the hot air button”.                                                                                                           

    In Numbers 10:29, we are briefly introduced to Moses’ brother-in-law, named Hobab….Moses asked him to come with them to the promised land. He told him “we will do you only good, for the Lord shall surely give us the land”. Hobab was very familiar with the lay of the land, he knew where the springs of water were, he knew where the grassy areas were so the livestock could graze. He knew where the safest routes of passage were through the land….

    But Hobab was a Midianite, who was addicted to second-best. He took a look at the sacrifice, and the dedication which would be needed, the challenges to be faced, and said to Moses, in Numbers 10:30, “I will not go with you”….                                                                 

    He listed 6 things that persuaded him to settle for second best!  They are His lands, His family, His possessions, trusting Moses’ leadership, the lack of guarantees, and the uncertainty of the journey ahead…I would suspect that we have all faced the same temptations to settle, instead of selecting God’s very best, for some of those reasons!

    If you find yourself with less spiritual conviction and passion than you had at some previous point in your Christian walk….you’re at second-best! If you’ve become weary of the battle against the forces of darkness and have the “let someone else do it” attitude…you’re at second-best! ….If you no longer bother resisting the enemy but more and more seek the path of least resistance and compromise…you’re at second-best! If you are no longer passionate about the call and mantle of God on your life, and the difference it makes….you’re at second-best! If you find yourself lowering the standard of holiness and righteousness, and you’re no longer excited to share the salvation message, you’re at second-best! If you’re spending more and more time griping and complaining about people and things, and less and less time giving honor and praise and encouragement….you’re at second-best!

    One woman wrote on her divorce papers these words, “I was tired of being his second best.” I wonder how God feels about being 2nd best? No one advertises that their hotel, car lot, store, shop or church, is second-best! No one ever wears a t-shirt that says “second best”….unless they are walking next to their wife.

     Moses’ brother-in-law Hobab, was given the incredible opportunity, of being Moses’ personal guide to the promised land, but tragically, Numbers tells us that he chose to stay with his Midianite lands, friends, family and possessions….However, there came a time when some of the men of Israel brought Midianite prostitutes into the camp, and the son of the high priest, slew them and the men who brought them.. One of them was the daughter of the king of Midian, and it caused a war between them……                                               

    Numbers 31:5 “So there were commissioned out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. v6 And Moses sent them to the war, under the leadership of Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand. v7 And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males of the land”……..

    Hobab, could have gone to the promised land, with his generations being honored in the chronicles of Jewish history, their history would have been entwined with the people of God, but he died instead as an enemy of God, along with all the other enemies of God….                                                                                                                             

    The very fact that there is a second-best, indicates that there is a better and a best!  That not every relationship is the best relationship….  Not every choice is the best choice…..Not every friendship is the best alliance for us…… Not every job is the best career move we could have made…... Not every purchase is the best use of our money.

    We make our choices and then our choices make us! As a massive ship is guided by a small rudder, in comparison to it’s size, our lives often turn on small decisions and unexpected events. An unplanned phone call, a chance conversation in the hallway, a friend we “happened” to meet in a restaurant, a book we meant to read and then finally did….

    Circumstances and encounters that seemed by chance, yet were guided by the perfect timing of the hand of God!  All of this, to bring us back once again to the opportunity to have his best, not a substitute… a counterfeit, or  a“what might have been”! …Each decision, each encounter, and each experience links you and I, to the past while at the same time building a bridge connecting us to the future. Things that seemed of little consequence today, may be of enormous importance tomorrow.

    Each of us need “insight” from God to make the best choices today as we move forward into the future, and seize those significant moments, which appear as insignificant at the times of their occurrence.                                                                                                               

    A young preacher came across a farmer working in his field as he was out witnessing and inviting folks to church. Being concerned about the man's soul, the preacher asked the man, "Are you laboring in the vineyard of the Lord my good man?" The farmer replied, “oh, no, this isn’t a vineyard…..these are soybeans, boy."  "Then, may I ask you” said the preacher. "Are you lost?"…"Naw! I've lived here all my life, this is my farm" answered the farmer. "Well, sir, are you prepared to go in the resurrection?" ….. Now, this got the farmer's attention and he asked, "When's it gonna be?" Thinking he had finally made a connection, …. the young preacher replied, "It could be today, maybe tomorrow, or it could be the next day."…

Slowly, taking a handkerchief from his back pocket and wiping his brow, the farmer remarked, "Well, preacher, please don't mention this to my wife. She doesn't get out much,  since we’ve got a lotta work to do around here, and she'll wanna go all three of them days….."                                                                                                     

    God will give us spiritual insight, so we can make the very best decisions with the best information available…

    Eugene Peterson offers this colorful paraphrase, of Philippians 1:10…“You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gushiness, or mental mush.”

John Knox translates it….“Seek that you may learn to prize what is of value.”

King James says it this way….“May you be able to approve (dokimazo) what is the best.”

    This Greek word, “dokimazo”, was used for testing metals—like gold ore and coins, to find out what they are worth. There is gold and then there is “Fool’s Gold.” It looks like gold to the naked eye, but it isn’t, and it’s not worth anything. When it’s melted down, and put to the test, it is not what it appears to be on the surface.

    Too many Christians settle for “Fool’s Gold” in the choices they make, because they allow their heart and their emotions to make critical decisions, instead of putting them in the melting pot of the word, and allowing the spirit of truth to break them down, and expose any falseness, flaws, and worthlessness that may be embedded in them.                                                                                                                                                                                     

    Paul is praying that the Philippians would have such love and insight that they would continually make wise choices in life. He is praying that they would not be satisfied with the status quo or with spiritual mediocrity but would push on to true spiritual excellence. He is asking God for the gift of spiritual discernment, “dokimazo”, to judge between good and bad, good and better, better and best. It is the ability to make wise choices under pressure. Oh how we need discernment so that when we come under pressure we can still make wise choice.

    A man hired a plumber to help him restore an old farmhouse, the plumber had a rough first day on the job, since it was a very difficult project. The man who had hired him, drove him home, and on the way, he sat in stony silence. On arriving home, he invited the driver to come in. But first, he paused briefly at a post on the front porch, rubbing his hands on it’s top….As they opened the door to go in, the plumber underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was covered with a smile as he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a big hug and kiss. After a while, he walked the driver back to his car and the driver asked about the post. That's my trouble post," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles and pressure in my life, but one thing's for sure, those troubles and pressures don't belong in my house with my wife and the children. So I just wipe them off and leave them out here on the trouble post every night when I come home and  give them up to God. Then in the morning I peel them off again so I can deal with what needs to be done. But the funny thing is, when I come out in the morning to peel them off, there aren't hardly any of them left to take with me”….

    Making wise choices is a real balancing act…and we face a critical problem today, because wise choices, depend on knowing WHAT IS RIGHT and what is wrong, not just what is acceptable or popular !!!!. This is crucial because we live in a world where many people evidently have lost much of their sense of right and wrong. Everything appears to them as shades of gray.

    IF IT FEELS GOOD DO IT….IF IT GRATIFIES THE FLESH, GRATIFY IT…..IF YOU HAVE AN ITCH,THEN  SCRATCH IT!!!!

    After establishing in our hearts what is the best, we must then have the courage and commitment to do what we know to be right. True discernment gives you vision to see what is right and then, courage, gives you the determination, conviction and commitment to actually go out and do it. We can give away our freedom, by allowing what has been done to us at some point in our past, to identify us to the degree, that it becomes the theme underneath all that we do…. then we allow it to rule us, instead of being ruled and governed by the freedom for which Christ has died and raised up to make us free!                                                                                                                                 

    1 Corinthians 2:6  “We, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground….v7 but God's wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of His purposes. It's what God determined as the way to bring out His best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. v8 The experts don’t have a clue about this eternal plan. If they did, they wouldn't have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. v9….No one has ever seen or heard or imagined anything quite like it - What God has arranged for those who love Him. v10 But you've seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open for you.v11 and He not only knows what He's thinking, v12 but He lets us in on it. v13 We don't have to rely on the world's guesses and opinions. We learned this from God, and we're passing it on to you in the same, personal way. v14….Spirit can be known only by spirit - God's Spirit and our spirit being in open communion. v15 Being Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God's Spirit is doing.”

    There was a young lady named Naomi who was in the ROTC program. She had endured many challenges and difficulties in order to succeed in a male dominated program. In spite of all the intimidation and pressures, she was made a captain, the highest rank in her class, while excelling in the program.

    One day she was called in by the officers in charge of the program and they informed her that she could not be so vocal about her religious faith and convictions, and that she had a right to them, but she would have to keep them to herself. She politely declined to do so and finally, in a surprising turn around, she was called in one last time and they told her, “Look Naomi, you can continue sharing your convictions in the appropriate circumstances with no repercussions, because all of the women in your troop have notified us that if we dismiss you, they will all be quitting the program too. So we have decided to let you share your convictions and all of the other girls have decided that from now on as long as you are in this program, they are going to share theirs too!”  

    Naomi was selected from a graduating class of over 1200, to give the valedictory address to over 6000 people. Sixteen times she brought up the words, “God my Savior” and many times she referred to “the Lord Jesus Christ’.

    Paul tells us how he prays for the Philippian Christians in Philippians 1:10 “And may you be pure (i-lik-ree-nace'….genuine, with integrity) and blameless until the day (hay-mer’-ah….the glorious daylight) of Christ”…. Paul is praying that they would have a genuine Christian life…. Not Second best!... “Hay-mer’-ah”, means being exposed to the light….. “i-lik-ree-nace'” means genuine, and without deception….                                                                                                  

     In the first century the shops were often dimly lit which meant that prospective customers would have trouble getting an accurate view of the various gemstones and precious metals. When they took them into the sunlight, they could see accurately since the sunlight revealed the truth. Any cracks, flaws or scratches could no longer be covered up or hidden by the shadows.      

    To be pure and without deception means to live in such a way that the truth about who we are is clear and evident. It means that people don’t have to wonder about what you are doing, or why you are doing it, because you have nothing to hide from the light. You are the same in good times and bad times…..

    You are the same at midnight as you are at high noon….You are the same on the job or at school as you are in church on Sunday morning…You are the same behind closed doors as you are in public. You are the same, regardless of who you are with, or what they may be doing. To be “pure” means to be a “sunlight” Christian. Your life is consistent no matter where you happen to be or who happens to be with you.

    One 19th century writer called it “The Life of God in the Soul of Man.” In some ways it covers the whole range of what God wants to do in us and through us so we can have His best, not the second-best!!!.                                

    The Philippians 1:10 “Sunlight Christians”…1. Are known by their abounding charity and love. 2. They are people of knowledge and discernment. 3. They are consistent and make wise choices under pressure. 4. They have the visible fruit of a righteous life. 5. They enjoy a vibrant, living relationship with Jesus Christ. 6. They are careful that in everything God alone gets the glory.

    Paul tells those of his day as well as those of our day…1 Corinthians 12:31 “Covet earnestly the best (tagarista) gifts: and I show unto you a more excellent way”. “Tagarista” means having the ability to separate good things from the best things….Most people don’t fail because of really bad things, but they fail in the area of discerning “the good from the best”….                   

    Oak Park River Forest High School, has on the school’s website, it’s school Logo, which is a shield with some Greek writing on it. The Greek writing is the word “Tagarista”, which is a fitting goal, both for a high school and for an individual life.

    Those who proposed this motto for the high school understood that there is a dimension to all education which goes beyond and is also embedded within geometry, biology, American history, or English literature. It is also an understanding of a framework of values that enables us to make proper judgments about ethics, and life principles. But apart from God, and His spirit of truth in our lives, we cannot and are not capable of ever doing this….

    We must have the wisdom and discernment that comes from God alone….If we want God’s best for others…If we want God’s best in our own life….If we want God’s best in our family…If we want God’s best in our church…

    God’s Spirit challenges us to be Philippians 1:10 “Sunlight Christians” who refuse to settle for “second-best” Christianity and spirituality! God’s best for each of us is for us to be transformed from death to life, from deception and denial, into truth…. from despair to hope…. from fear and uncertainty to trust…. from rejection, jealousy and hate to love…. from turmoil, struggle and worry into His glorious, overwhelming peace. Let us never, never, give away the freedom for which redemption’s price was paid!!!                                                                                              

    Let’s expect some freedom miracles today!!!  Lord Jesus, grant that our love may overflow so that we will love even the irritating people we meet every day. Give us the knowledge that comes from knowing you and the insight and discernment to see what really matters so that we can make wise choices under pressure. Make us “sunlight” Christians who bring forth good fruit and bring glory to God. We long to be people who make it easy for others to believe in You. Lord, may this prayer come true in us and through us. Help me to start each day with the attitude of gratitude.

    I believe that You and I together can make the best of each and every day. Help me to clear my mind so that I can hear from You and be willing to accept the things that I can only know by Your word within me. Let me not whine and whimper about things I have no control over and I give them to You for the best response when I'm pushed beyond my limits. I know that when I can't find the words to pray, You listen to my heart. Continue to use me to do Your will. Continue to bless me as I am willing to be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak... Keep me uplifted that I may give words of encouragement.

    I pray for those that are lost and can't find their way. I pray for those that are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those that don't believe, because You have given me faith that You can change people and situations and circumstances. I pray for each and every family member and their households, that they come out of debt and their needs be met. You said that if we knock it would be opened, if we ask it would be given, and if we seek, we would find. So I pray that the peace of God, which passes all understanding, would keep our hearts and minds and lives, through Christ Jesus our Lord…..in Jesus'  name.  Amen!  
 

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