There are 36 tribes of giants mentioned in the bible, and 22 giants are mentioned by name. To most Christians, the giant that immediately comes to mind when you talk about these larger than life humans, is Goliath the Philistine and the encounter he had with David.
Part of God’s training program for David involved placing this young man, who was still just a teen ager, in some difficult situations.
(it’s called training for reigning)..1 Corinthians 9:25 “And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we (strive for) an incorruptible crown”. In those difficult times of his life, David learned to trust the Lord and walk in the power of God, not the power of the flesh. David learned the lessons necessary to not just survive, but to thrive in life in the presence of giants.
Let me take a moment to refresh your memory about where these Giants that are in the bible, originated… Scripture tells us that fallen angels, looked upon the daughters of men, and had relationships with them. They are referred to as those who left their original purpose in serving God, and served Satan and themselves. The result of this was the birthing of a race of giants in the earth. I say this to remind us all that Giants were real beings that were physical, real world manifestations of the war between good and evil, darkness and light, Satan and Jehovah God. The physical size of giants caused them to win normally by shear intimidation and terror… they were terrorists birthed by Satan!
1 Samuel 17:33 And Saul said to David, You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for you are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. ….v36 ..This uncircumcised Philistine has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with you. 38 And Saul armed David with his armor, ….And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proven them. And David took them off. v40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose for himself five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine giant”.
As we watch David walk into the Valley of Elah and face a 9 foot 9 inch giant, we can Get some much needed instructions about how we can thrive in giant country. Robert Perching was 8 feet 11 inches tall…but I discovered that the tallest man ever recorded was 11 feet 6 inches. He was called the Giant of Castelnau, in France. And there is a petrified giant that was found in Ireland, which was 12 ft. 2inches. But 9’ 9” is frightening enough, when they’re coming at you with a spear the size of a small telephone pole and a sword that weighed 50 pounds.
All indications are that Giants were pretty wide spread, in the earth and we all will pass through some Giant country, on the way to where God is leading us. How we handle giants will either hinder us or catapult us into our future as it did David. The fear and hopelessness which they produce, causes most folks to give up before the fight is even engaged!
I. The account of David and Goliath tells us, that our winning strategy, is very much about Whose terms are you fighting on. The grace of God will present you with opportunities, and the favor of God will empower you to seize them! David didn’t fight the giant on the giant’s terms but on his own terms! Often we lose because we let the giants decide the ground rules.
This day for David began like any other day. He plans to tend his sheep and do the same things he has done day after day for years. But, this day will be so very different! Jesse sends David to check on David’s three elder brothers who are fighting in Saul’s army. They have been gone at least 40 days, and Jesse is worried. You see, in those days countries did not have standing armies. Ordinary citizens would rally around the king when he called for volunteers to fight and defend their homes, lands and family.
So, David goes to his brothers as he is commanded. When he arrives, he finds the armies of Israel cowering in fear because of the taunts of Goliath.
David didn’t set out to slay a giant, but the giant got between him and his assignment! Even King Saul appears to be too afraid to face the giant in battle. But, while the army of Saul hides in their tents, David hears the giant as he blasphemes the Name of God and shames the people of God. David’s day had started like countless other days had started, but before the sun went down, David found himself face to face with a tall, powerful, intimidating giant. Isn’t that just how the giants come to you and me? They rarely notify you they are coming. You get up, in the morning, expecting the day to be like any other day, and there it stands: a giant has entered your life. When they come, they always catch us off guard and they always frighten us.
The name Goliath in Hebrew is (gol-yath…to strip, to roll over, to run down, to cause to wallow) We’re all going to face a little hell before we get to heaven. A fellow asked the minister if he could tell him how to make holy water? The minister told him, “It’s really very simple…You take some regular water and you boil the hell out of it.” And I found out that normal water is “H2O”, but Holy water is “H2O My God”!
'If we are going to keep our equilibrium in giant country, we need to understand that even though giants look like they show up to make hell on earth, their appearance is on God’s terms. Now, from our perspective, they just appear. But, from God’s perspective, they are all part of His perfect plan for us. If we could grasp the truth that nothing comes our way apart from the will of God, it would change our attitude toward the giants of life.
We need to remember that everything David dreamed of, was on the other side of this giant. Position, title, wealth, lands, the kings daughter… Ooooo La-La! Everyone else saw the giant as a barrier… David saw it as a doorway to his dreams!
If you look at Caleb’s response in facing the giants of Canaan… it reveals that He understood that this was all a part of God’s complete package plan for them… Caleb tells the unbelieving congregation, in Numbers 14:9 “Only rebel not against the LORD, neither fear the people of the land; for they (the giants) are bread (providing strength) for us!”
Muscles grow by resistance, and the same is true with spiritual muscles!
Israel had wandered through the wilderness for two years after they left Egypt. They had arrived at the banks of the Jordan River. All they had to do was cross the river and take the Promised Land of blessing that God had already given to them. Instead of going in and taking the land, they first sent in 12 spies. (You’ve got to be so careful, who you let speak into your spirit, and whose report you allow into your soul). The spies looked over the land and came back with their report. 10 of the spies were convinced of Israel’s defeat because they compared the giants to themselves, instead of comparing them to Jehovah God! The spies’ own words tell the story best,
Numbers 13:27 And they told him, We came unto the land where you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. 28 Nevertheless the people are strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and we saw the children of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains, and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. (for the Canaanites had all enlisted the help of these giants) v30 And Caleb stilled the people, and said, Let us go at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it”.
The people gave ear to the negative report of the10 and had to spend 38 more years in the wilderness. They were looking for their environment to define their purpose, but their purpose had to come from the word of God within each one of them, not how things looked around them.
A Jewish proverb says…”I ask not for a lighter burdens, but for broader shoulders”. A Chinese proverb says, “Without friction a diamond cannot be polished, nor can a man be perfected without testing and trials”. God won't ask what kind of car you drove. He'll ask how many people you helped who didn't have transportation. 2. God won't ask the square footage of your house. He'll ask how many people you welcomed into your home. 3. God won't ask about the clothes you had in your closet. He'll ask how many you helped to clothe. 4. God won't ask what your highest salary was.
He'll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it. 5. God won't ask what your job title was. He'll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability. 6. God won't ask how many friends you had. He'll ask how many people you were a friend to. 7. God won't ask in what neighborhood you lived. He'll ask how you treated your neighbors. 8. God won't ask about the color of your skin. He'll ask about the content of your character.
Giants won’t just leave on their own…Did God know about the giants that were ahead for them? Could He have removed them before Israel arrived? Did He allow them to be there? The answer to all those questions is “Yes!” Yes, He knew they were there. Yes, He could have removed them. Yes, He allowed them to be there. God wanted Israel to face those giants and He planned for it.
40 years later, when they came back to the Jordan River, guess what, the giants were still there waiting, By the way this same principle is seen over and over in the Bible – 3 Hebrews in the furnace, Daniel in the lion’s den, Disciples in the storm, and so on….God knew about all of those events because they were part of His preparation for their ruling and reigning with Him! God is transforming a people with the slave mentality, into people of authority and dominion. Face your giant, stop denying it, stop trying to accommodate it, stop believing that you’ll just have to live with it. When that giant shows up in our lives, it did not get there by accident. That giant is there by the providence of God. It is there because God sent it, allowed it, and wove it into the future person He is shaping us to become. It is there because God, in His precise timing, wants us to face it and let it strengthen us and build character into us. When it comes to us it’s there for us to grow on and develop with and learn through.
Noah faced some Big challenges, that were global in scope. I came across a list of what we can learn from Noah's Ark 1.Don't miss the boat. 2.Remember that we are all in the same boat. 3.Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah started the Ark. 4.Don't listen to critics, stay with the plan God gave you till it is done. 5.Build your future on high ground. 6.For safety's sake, always travel in pairs. 7.Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails made it through with the cheetahs. 8.When you're stressed out, just float a while”.
God hand picks our giants, but when the giants come, we can be like Saul and Israel and we can try to hide from and avoid the giant; or we can be like David and we can call out the giant. We can be discouraged, or we can do like Job and worship and magnify the Lord, in spite of what the giant is doing, and how it appears. The choice is ours. But, if we can ever understand that giants come in God’s perfect timing; it will help us maintain our balance in giant country.
The story of David and Goliath tells us that VICTORY IS A MATTER OF TRUST… When David hears the threats and defiance of Goliath, he determines that something must be done about this giant. He makes his intentions known, and David sets out in the direction of his faith. But, the vultures were circling…and as soon as David expresses his desire to see the giant defeated, he is met with criticism, and doubt from his family. And as we watch David move toward his face off with Goliath, he was warned that his flesh will be given to the vultures and scavengers.
Vultures and scavengers are our fears, our faults and failures, our skeletons in the closet, that the giants use against us. But we see a young man who has learned something about the mercy and Grace of God. He didn’t forget in the darkness the promise God made him in the sunshine!
Keep looking up above and beyond the giants…Giants want to block your vision so that you can’t see beyond them. But David counted on God’s Purposes – He declared that God had given him hinds feet in high places!
In 1 Samuel. 16:13 – David had been anointed as king to sit on a throne. David knew that he would not die this day. He knew that it was God, not Goliath that held his destiny. When you face your giants, meditate on every promise given you that has not yet been fulfilled, and know that God planned on you to win, that He might complete his word in you!
David learned that what God has done builds faith for what He will do! David knew that everything God had done in the past, he was still able to do. Remembering past victories encouraged him to claim the giants of the present. David’s God was an unchanging God who had revealed what he could do and by that, He also revealed what He would do!
In verse 37 David said ”Moreover, the LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine”.
Know your own gifts…Get an “I CAN” attitude…David rejected Saul’s armor–– David knew that victory was not about swords, shields, spears, armor and bows, but it was about the mighty power of God. He would go into this battle with the same God and the same weapons he had used before. Be careful what you put your trust in!
The same God Who had protected him and given him victory after victory on the hills of Judea, would grant him the victory in the Valley of Elah! For David, there was only one giant there that day and His name was not Goliath. David saw how small Goliath was compared to the real giant in the story…the Lord God Almighty.
God did not save us for some giant to destroy us – God saved us to finish what he has begun in us! (He didn’t bring us this far, to leave us, he didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown, he didn’t build his home in us to move away. He didn’t pick us up to let us down) That giant cannot undo the eternal work God has already done in our souls. That giant is there as part of God’s eternal plan in our life. That giant is there to grow, expand and develop us, There’s nothing quite like cutting your teeth on a few giants to help your faith grow stronger. We can always trust God’s Purposes are far greater than what we see at the moment!
He will always be that which He has always been. He will not change His covenant in the middle of the stream. One of the greatest attributes of our Lord is His immutability. That simply means His unchangeableness! Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I change not”.
The God who did all those marvelous, miraculous things we read about in the Bible is still the same today! We’ve heard about the Red Sea; the Manna; Water from a Rock; the Meal Barrel and the Cruse of Oil; the Loaves and the Fishes; the Raising of Lazarus; etc. He is that God still today!
His Name says it all – Exodus 3:14 “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and He said, you shall say this unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, so shall you say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me unto you: this is My name forever, and this is My memorial unto all generations”.
What is the safest place?...One study found that you should Avoid riding in automobiles - because they are responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents. Do not stay home - 17% of all accidents occur in the home. Avoid walking on streets or sidewalks - because 14% of all accidents occur to pedestrians. Avoid traveling by air, rail, or water - because 16% of all accidents involve these forms of transportation. The remaining 33%, 32% of all deaths occur in Hospitals - so, above all else, avoid hospitals. But, you will be pleased to learn that only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services in church. Therefore, logic tells us that the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is at the church! So, attend church, IT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE!
If God has brought us there, no matter how fierce the storm, how big the giants, it is the safest place we can be!! David declared, “God is “able” –is our trust in man; in the economy; in ourselves, in the government…? These will all fail. He and He alone will never fail! Our survival depends on our being able to trust in Him.
Defeating Giants means you’ve got to TAKE IT …1 Samuel 17:45 Then said David to the Philistine, you come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. v.46 This day will the LORD deliver you into my hand; and I will smite you, and take your head (authority) from you, that the earth may know that there is a God in Israel”.
How do you prove God… you take it! There comes a time when talk must stop and action must begin. The time had come for David to take that which he had already been given, by the Lord. He walked down into the valley; faced the giant; declared his faith in God; slung the stone of his destiny; and overwhelmed what was trying to overwhelm him. That’s what “Dunamis” is. The power which was given on the day of Pentecost. Dunamis means, “The power to overwhelm what is overwhelming you!”
Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can! There is a time when the talking needs to stop and the TAKING needs to begin! As we face our giants day by day, isn’t it about time that we started taking by faith some of the things we have only talked about up until now?
It will involve more than taking another scriptural selfie….For instance, we talk about God providing for us, and we quote…Philippians 4:19 “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”. But, we still worry over our finances. We talk about God’s grace in every situation in life, and we quote… Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”.. but, we still act like we just aren’t going to make it. Isn’t it time we stopped talking about all we could have in Jesus and we just started taking it?
As we face our giants, we have already been promised the victory, 2 Corinthians 2:14 “Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savour (sweet fragrance) of his knowledge by us in every place”.
The truth of the matter is that you are not going to be a giant killer, you are a giant killer! Because God calls you that! Take another good look at your giant and see him defeated, conquered, and overwhelmed…! If giants are the offsprings of Satan….You are the offspring of God almighty! Not because your aim is so good, but, because you serve a God who never misses. Not because you deserve anything at all from God, but, because He has promised to give you His victory through His Son, the Lord Jesus.
Saul hid in the tent and nursed his fears; Eliab mocked David and fed his jealousy; Goliath thought he was all that, and polished his pride; and David flexed his faith. All the rest were only spectators, as David claimed the victory. It could have been Saul; it could have been Eliab; it could have been any of the thousands of Israel; but it was left to a shepherd boy to take it, and teach them all about the power of faith and trust.
What a powerful place, the place of surrender is! It’s not about us, it’s about Him, and we can go forth boldly, because of whose we are! If we need to do some giant killing, the altar of surrender is the best place to load our sling and take this thing, right into the face of our giants!
A little boy was told by his mother to bring her the broom. It was dark and the broom was outside on the porch. He told his mom, “Mom, I’m afraid of the dark.”…. Oh, there’s nothing to be afraid of, because Jesus is out there” the mom said. “are you sure Jesus is out there in the dark” he said. “Oh yes, He’s everywhere”…..So the boy opened the door just a crack and peeked out into the darkness and said, “Jesus, if you’re out there, would you please hand me the broom!”
God gives a great promises to those who would be takers and not shakers, fakers or just talkers. He gives this through the prophet Isaiah… Isaiah 65:22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree (generational blessings) are the days of my people, and my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. v23 They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. v24 And before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear”.
I want to close with a Poem by Belinda van Rensburg…. It is night and the time is right, to stand firm and to fight the good fight. Our foe is strong; yes, our foe is fierce, and with his arrows he would like to pierce, the walls of angels that surround, the children of God, and keep them bound. Do not tremble and do not fear, when Satan and his demons begin to draw near. Strike them with God's invincible Sword; the Spirit of God and His mighty Word. Then the dark prince of this world will flee, And Jesus will set the captives free. Our God is mighty and our God is strong, so let's march forth with a victory song. Stand firm, move forward; and don't give up. We will go on and we will not stop - until we've won the final war and we stand victorious, before heaven's door.
Grace That Is Greater Than All Our Guilt (so shout it from the roof tops)
There are some folks that treat guilt and condemnation like they are two of the gifts of the Spirit. While we don’t want live there, in the camp of guilt and condemnation, we want to learn how to allow guilt to have it’s rightful place as it does it’s assigned work in our lives… Hello, everyone, we are all guilty of sin, we are all guilty of falling short, we have all failed and Broken most of the 10 commandments…. But there is a Jewish feast, that is all about facing your guilt and letting it serve its purpose in your life…
With the feast of Rosh Hashana coming in October I want to quote an article from Jewish Rabbi, JOSEPH AARON, About the importance of this major observance for the Jewish nation, which begins on the evening of Sunday, October 2nd – October 4th this year. It is the Jewish New Year, when the nation spends time in repentance and self-evaluation for how they have lived their lives in the past year so they can enter the new year better than they left the old.
Rabbi Joseph Aaron says, “I come before you, as we approach Rosh Hashana, in praise of guilt. Good, old fashioned, hit you right in the kishkes guilt. Guilt that makes you feel bad, makes you think about what you did, makes you feel, well, guilty that you did it. Guilt has gotten a bad rap lately. It's been seen to be wrong, antiquated, not for today. In an age when everything is a lifestyle choice, when everyone is so about feelings (if it feels good do it), when self-actualization is where it's at, when political correctness rules, when being judgmental is something out of the Stone Age, when tolerance is the highest value, when doing your own thing is the greatest good, there's no place for guilt.
Even worse is that folks don't feel guilty about not feeling guilty, and no one blushes and feels ashamed anymore. If we did, of course, that would be a start. Without guilt, we are lost as a people. We need guilt, not in the neurotic way, but in the healthy way that is demonstrated throughout Jewish history and encouraged by Jewish tradition. If we go astray, guilt is the guide that gets us back on track. It lets us know something's wrong and that something needs to be done to make it right. Without that guiding force, and without guilt, we simply go our merry way, oblivious to the fact that what we are or aren't doing isn't a good thing and it isn't good for us.
Rosh Hashana is all about facing our guilt head-on. We may be able to ignore it, obscure it, justify it all year, but when Rosh Hashana rolls around, there's no more running, no place to hide. That which makes us feel guilty is telling us that we must take responsibility for it, make amends as a result of it and vow to never do it again. That is why Rosh Hashana is ultimately such a joyous, wonderful time.
It lets us repair things while we're still aware enough to know they need fixing. As long as we feel guilt, there is hope for us. Rosh Hashana gives us the opportunity to find our guilt, focus on our guilt, and look it straight in the face. Having done that, we can feel more fully alive, in the freedom of grace and go forward, renewed and rejuvenated and ready for a new year”. (end of quote)
If guilt has a purpose, it is to drive us into the arms of Grace! It is not the will of God for any born-again Christian to practice sin. But, if a Christian does sin, there is a surplus of righteousness which the grace of God, through Jesus Christ has provided. And the supply will never run out! He’s got you covered!
When it comes to a contest between guilt and grace, grace wins every Time!!! The blood of Jesus Christ has been offered in the holiest of holies in Heaven. This means that the things that take place here, cannot touch it, effect it, diminish it, weaken it, or cancel it out!
Matthew 6:19 says it is laid up for us, where moth and rust cannot corrupt, and where thieves cannot break through and steal it…. You see, when we try to keep it in the earth realm, (and that’s what guilt and condemnation want to do)….get you to keep it, here and out of the heavenlies, (in heaven where it cannot be affected by the things of earth). Satan knows he can’t touch it in the heavenlies, where it is secure…. but he wants to keep it into the realms of your unworthiness mind set, then he can steal you blind!
It’s would be like someone who plants a garden, and keeps digging up the seed to see if it’s growing, and it never does. I know at times it’s just too good to be true, but leave it alone! Faith must let Grace do it’s work, when human effort has done it’s part of simply asking, then believing and receiving.
Romans 8:31-34 "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies, Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even now at the right hand of God, who also is presently making intercession for us. " Stop letting guilt and condemnation keep digging up your seed!.....
I want to look at the struggles with guilt and failure that Peter, a leading apostle of the faith, went through as he developed in his faith. Peter knew what it was like to go through trials and have his faith tested. And he knew what condemnation does to a person. Jesus warned him, after the Lord’s supper which they celebrated together in the upper room, that the night ahead would sift him as he had never been sifted before…listen to his response…
Luke 22:33 “And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison, and to death”. Notice, the mistake Peter made…. He confused the love in his heart, with the strength of his will, though he loved deeply, his will was not as strong as his love….. but that miss-step caused him to… 1. mistake presumption for faith…2. Warm himself by the enemies’ fire (his need to survive was stronger than his understanding of God’s grace) 3. He denied Christ three times with cursing…4. He didn’t want to even be recognized as being one of those Jesus’ followers..5. Then, He hid behind locked doors for fear that being a Christian might cost him something, that he wasn’t willing to pay…..and finally, 6. He turned back to his old life of fishing, when Jesus didn’t meet his expectations.
(whatever you get, outside the will of God, you will have to stay outside of the will of God in order to keep it)
Luke 22:31 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to sift (sin-ee-ad'-zo… break down, divide, separate, weaken) you as wheat that he may have you (ex-ahee-teh'-om-ahee…remove prosecute, destroy, eliminate, discredit, & silence) you v32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted (ep-ee-stref'-o.. turned around, reestablished, change direction, made right again) strengthen your brethren”.
As we see how Christ delivered Peter from his guilt, It will help us in dealing with our own struggles with guilt. John's account of the conversation Jesus had, shows Peter insisting that if everyone else left, he would indeed follow Jesus…… *…John 13:36 “Peter said unto him, Lord, where are You going? Jesus answered him, where I go, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow me afterwards”.
Jesus saw what was coming to sift Peter, but He also, prophesied that he would overcome in the power of the Spirit! The grace of God has prophesied over and into our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, if they would just receive it….that there is a victorious outcome, which the power of guilt and condemnation cannot destroy!
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the sweet fragrance of His grace and knowledge by us in every place.
What Christ has done in dealing with our guilt and condemnation, can be illustrated by a great and good man who went to a grocery store and asked to pay his debt. The bookkeeper, in scanning the records, discovered that there was no indebtedness at all written against him in that store. She further noted that there never had been an indebtedness written against this great, wealthy man. When she informs him of this, his reply is simply, "Then let me pay a debt I do not owe. It may be that someone may come in, even today who owes a debt that he cannot pay. Let the credit which I leave here on the books be transferred to their account."
Now, let’s suppose that the same day, a poor man, homeless and on the streets, seeks to make a small purchase of bread, milk and ham, to make himself a sandwich. He would certainly be turned away when he asked that these items be charged against his account. He would be informed that nothing could be charged to him until he paid what he already owed. Perhaps he is at the point of turning away when the cashier informs him that she was just notified that there had been a credit left on the books for this situation. At his request, the credit left on the books by the good, wealthy man would be transferred to cover the homeless man’s account, and would be extended to all he might need in the future. At Jesus’ death, that’s what He did for us…
His grace provided a surplus of righteousness that was laid up for our future needs. This righteousness is transferred to our account as we repent and apply for His freely given grace, as we ask in faith we partake of the victory which Jesus purchased for us on the cross.
Let me give you a list of at least ten things, Jesus never has and never will say about you….1. You’re too far gone to be saved.. 2. I am very disappointed in you… 3.This wouldn’t be happening if you were a better Christian… 4. It’s OK not to love some people… 5. It’s all up to you… 6. You don’t have to forgive someone who hurt you that much… 7. You missed my will for your life… 8. I’ve given up on you… 9. This is a cross you must bear alone…10. You’re not worthy.
Condemnation is from the accuser, while conviction that is by grace, brings restoration from our heavenly attorney, who represents us before God twenty four seven! Guilt pulls you down, diminishes you, and steals your potential, while Grace sets you free!!!
There are a lot of folks who approach repentance with “Lord I want you to make me pure, but not yet! (not yet Lord!)
There is true grace, but there is a teaching that says, because God loves you, you can do anything you want and you’ll still get all the benefits!...It’s like saying, “Because I live in America, I’m a Christian”! While It is true….that no matter what you do God will love you, still His favor comes when we love the Lord enough to be passionate about what He loves and move away from what He hates. Grace gives us the power to say No!
Reformation always precedes Revival….Revival may change the label, but reformation changes the contents within the can!….
John Newton said “ Not just the guilt, but the love of sin and it’s dominion are taken away and subdued by grace, and it is cordially denounced by the believing, pardoned sinner.”
The cross is our “Aha moment” of realizing that man is without hope until he freely receives the gift of Divine Grace! The cross is God’s way of saying “I hope that someday you’ll grasp just how loved you really are”!!! Praise God, He will always respond by His Grace to every area of guilt, condemnation and unworthiness that we feel…. Guilt and shame say that because we are flawed, we are not worthy. But Grace says that we are flawed, so we are loved and cherished.
When I see a special needs child, I may not even know them, but my heart reaches out in love to them. We should just get over it, and come to the Lord, and say, “Lord here I am, I’m flawed, I’m broken, but I am your special needs child” ! YOU ARE LOVED AND ACCEPTED!
(1) To the sense of WORTHLESSNESS…He says • Genesis 1:26-27 ….We are made in the very image of God.. Mark 12:12…We are highly valued by God .
(2) To the Fear of PUNISHMENT and JUDGMENT… He says Isaiah 53:5….All punishment for our sins was placed on Christ Romans 3:25….He was our sacrifice which satisfied the wrath of God against sin ….1 John 4:15-18….There remains no more judgment for those who remain in Jesus Christ .
(3). For the Feeling of REJECTION and ABANDONMENT….. He says Romans 8:31-39….No one and nothing can separate us from the love of God, that is in Christ Jesus..Hebrews 13:5….We have God’s promise that He will never leave us or forsake us or reject us.
God saw what Peter did and knew that even though his faith had failed him, Peter still loved Him with all his heart. Luke 22:62 says that Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
We all can recall times in our past when yes, we loved God but we had problems with our will power. As a result, because we did not condition our will to respond to and choose what was pleasing to God, we did and said things which we would not have otherwise done. Look at one of the conversations that are recorded in scripture, that is a window into the heart of Peter…
John 21:15 “When they dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me more than these? He said unto Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said unto him, feed my lambs”.
Jesus knew that Peter’s will, was still being trained and brought under control of the Spirit… His heart was right, but his will was still being developed in its Christ likeness….
The knowledge of good and evil, is not enough by itself, to do the good and refuse the evil… The will must be trained and brought under the rule of the Spirit, in order to walk in the spirit and not obey the flesh! Adam and Eve had direct knowledge and revelation from God, and everything they needed was provided but they had no will power!
I love the way the angel informed the disciples that Jesus was waiting to meet with them, after the resurrection…
Mark 16:7 “Go your way, tell His disciples and Peter, He has gone before you into Galilee, there you will see Him, as He said unto you”.
He was letting Peter know, that even though he had failed, he was included as he repented and allowed grace to fully restore him!
Falling down doesn’t make you a failure, it’s staying down, that makes you a failure. No one ever failed so badly that God’s grace wasn’t able to bring them out and on top!
We know that Peter went on to become one of the leading apostles of the church, and many were brought into the kingdom, through the lessons he had learned about overcoming guilt and condemnation..
We all have failed, we all have fallen way short, we all have felt some level of regret at times…(so don’t judge someone else because they sin differently than you do) But the great news today, is that while you were going through all that, Jesus was praying for you, and prophesying victory and an awesome outcome in your life!
After Jesus had asked Peter about his love…Look at how he concluded the conversation…John 21:19 “And when He had spoken this, He said unto him, FOLLOW ME”… It was time to move forward, lay aside all the weights, and distractions and go forth…
We cannot afford to allow guilt to keep us from where Grace wants to lead us and favor is waiting to open doors for us! There comes that moment when we meet with Jesus, and it’s time to put it all behind us… and follow Him!
Jesus told Peter, that when his faith failed him, He was praying for him….the word “pray”, in the text, is the Greek word, (deh'-om-ahee.. to bind yourself to…)
Paul uses this word in Hebrews 2:18 “In that Jesus Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to succour (deh'-om-ahee) them that are tempted”….This nautical term describes….When a ship was taking on water and it looked like it was going to sink.. another vessel will tie itself to the sinking boat, so that they can then, together, make it safely to harbor. 1 John 2:1 “if we sin, we have an advocate (par-ak'-lay-tos.. one who represents us, our attorney, our counselor) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
There’s a song that says…. “Cause when we see you we find strength to face the day, and in your presence all our fears are washed away, (repeat) washed away….Hosannah, Hosannah, you are the God who saves us worthy of all our praises.. Hosannah, Hosannah, Come have Your way among us, we welcome You Lord Jesus….
Hebrew 10:12 “And Jesus, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. v13 From that place He fully expects all His enemies shall be made His footstool”.
When His enemies become your friends, you will be pulled into the matrix of their defeat! When His enemies are your enemies, you will have overwhelming victory!
I believe Jesus is asking all of us today… who will follow me to the next level of a Christ like will? Who will show the world that I really am who I said I was and that my Grace is enough?
Maybe like doubting Thomas, you’ve been waiting to work through the feelings of unworthiness and maybe it’s been doubts and guilt that have kept you out….
Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand…”
A certain governor granted a pardon to a condemned man, but the man refused to accept it. The governor stated “a pardon refused, is grace never received.” Grace is yours, but if you do not receive it, it is as though it never existed, for you!
When we begin with repentance, we will end with Hosannahs!! *….The Song says ….”Mercy there was great and grace was free, pardon there was multiplied to me. There my burden soul found liberty, at Calvary”!
There are many who have great ideas but who never are willing to make the hard commitments to cause them to come to pass. That’s the difference between a good idea and a great idea.
Many folks are in love with the IDEA of marriage without the dedication and patience that it takes to achieve the substance of a great marriage.
Folks will say they believe in the idea of Peace, but never are willing to make the tough investments which will bring it into reality so that the idea of peace becomes possible. Peace becomes a great idea, when we go home, love our wife and family and those in our circle of relationships. Then reach out in love beyond our circle even to our enemies.
If you ask children what they want to be when they grow up, they might say “President, a doctor, a teacher, or a missionary who saves Africa, or an evangelist who travels the world. But as they grow up, the long term commitments which are necessary, cause them to settle for lesser things. They liked an idea but lacked the long term discipline and conviction to give it substance.There are things which will never materialize until we get beyond the wishing or just the idea stage….
If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride….
The graveyard of wishes is probably the largest cemetery of all…..
A young lady wrote a letter to her former fiancé …. My Dearest Jimmy, No words could ever express the great unhappiness I've felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you'll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you! Yours forever, Marie. P.S., And congratulations on winning the state lottery. (she suddenly found a reason to love this guy)
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.2 For by it the elders obtained a good report”. The word faith here, means that you are so convinced, that you align your actions with your belief system, so that it becomes possible, therefore providing the fertile soil for the idea which you are convinced of, to have the substance needed to become a reality.
During World War II, Hitler commanded all religious groups to unite so that he could control them. Among the Brethren churches, half complied and half refused. Those who went along with the order had a much easier time. Those who did not, faced harsh persecution. In almost every family of those who resisted, someone died in a concentration camp. When the war was over, feelings of bitterness ran deep between the groups and there was much tension. Finally they decided that the situation had to be healed. Leaders from each group met at a quiet retreat. For several days, each person spent time in prayer, examining his own heart in the light of Christ's commands. Then they came together.
Francis Schaeffer, who told of the incident, asked a friend who was there, "What did you do then?" "We were like one," he replied. As they confessed their hostility and bitterness to God and yielded to His control, the Holy Spirit created a spirit of unity among them. And Love filled their hearts and dissolved their hatred and brought them together again.
Show me a church where there is love as the foundation for everything they do, and I will show you a church that is a powerful force in their community and has the attention of their City.
In Chicago there was a little boy who attended a local children’s church. When his parents moved to another part of the city the little fellow still attended the same children’s church, although it meant a long, tiresome walk each way. A friend asked him why he went so far, and told him that there were plenty of others just as good nearer his home. "They may be as good for others, but not for me,". "Why not?" she asked. " They really love a fellow over there," he replied.
If only the world believed that we loved them, and that every person was special before God, there would be fewer empty churches, and a smaller part of our population who never darken a church door. Let love replace duty and obligation in all the areas of our church relations, and the world will soon be evangelized.
Professor, Jim Pluddeman, shares the concept of the BIG IDEA. "The effective Christian is like a person who takes a strong rope, ties one end around the Big Ideas of Scripture, ties the other end around the major themes of life, and then through the power of the Spirit, commits themselves to bringing the two things together as one."
Accomplishing the mission of Jesus would mean focusing on the Big Ideas, of scripture not trying to juggle many little ideas that would distract and pull us away from our greater, God centered mission.
Jesus did not confuse people with a lot of little ideas. Instead, he presented one Big Idea with a clear call to action:
Matthew 4:18-20 "As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. `Come, follow me,' Jesus said, `and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him".
Jesus didn't say to Peter and Andrew, "Come, be Christians." When Jesus met someone for the first time, he challenged them with one Big Idea: "Follow me." The Big Idea was simple but it wasn’t easy.
If Peter and Andrew were asked, "What did Jesus teach you today?" there is no way they would respond that they couldn’t remember….. This Big Idea was very clear, and the call to action could not be easily misunderstood. The simplicity and clarity of that Big Idea, "Follow me," was what converted a movement of Christ followers into action. And these Christ followers knew what was expected of them and they would do anything and everything, including trading their very lives, to accomplish the commission and call of Jesus…… FOLLOW ME!
A businessman needed a million dollars to close an important business transaction. He went to church and the message was “give and it shall be given unto you”…. At the end of the service when the speaker called for those who wished to make a commitment, He knelt and started praying next to a man who was praying for a hundred dollars that he needed to pay an urgent debt. The businessman took out his wallet and pressed the hundred dollars into the other man's hand. The man was overjoyed and asked what had prompted the generous donor to bless him like this. The donor, said that God had spoken to him through the pastor’s message. When the recipient of the hundred dollars had left, the businessman then closed his eyes and prayed, "And now, Lord, that we have gotten rid of that distraction, I trust that I now have your undivided attention...."
The rich young ruler wanted more…. that was just too simple. He wanted something deep…. Just being like Jesus, wasn’t what he expected. With clarity and simplicity, Jesus challenged him with one BIG IDEA when he said, Mark 10:21 "One thing you lack.... Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, FOLLOW ME". The rich young ruler had many ideas about what being a Christian should be like….. but they were all keeping him from fulfilling the BIG IDEA…. FOLLOW JESUS!
The Big Idea teaching, touches on all the many basic truths of life that will guarantee a life that is lived well for God’s Kingdom. It brings us back to the clear values and principles that flow from the heart of God into the hearts of His people. God’s big idea and the main message of the Bible, and of our preaching is Jesus Christ Himself.
John 12:32 “And if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.”
Could it be that we have forgotten the Big Idea and gotten lost in too many little ideas?
The Bible’s main message is about Christ Who would come in the prophetic books, Christ who has come, in the gospels, and Christ who will come again, in the epistles and Revelation. Beware of studying or sharing the Bible, while missing the central message which is Jesus Christ Himself.
John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; for these are they which testify of Me.”
He said in John 6:35 “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, & he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
He said in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
He said in John 10:8 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved…”
In John 11:25 “I am the resurrection & the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live.”
And in John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches for without Me you can do nothing.”
The Holy Spirit’s Main Message Is Jesus Christ Himself, so if that is His main message, it is our mandate to be sure it is ours!
John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”
The Main Message of the 12 disciples was Jesus Christ Himself…
Acts 5:42 says “And daily in the temple, & in every house, they did not cease teaching & preaching Jesus as the Christ.” God’s Big Idea is that we Know Him. Trust Him. Worship Him. Love Him. Obey Him. Follow Him, and, proclaim Him. So often it is what Jesus can do for us, that we get focused on, instead of Jesus Himself. We don’t realize that we are seeking the creation instead of the Creator.
An elderly woman passed away, who had never married, she requested that no male pallbearers be allowed to carry her casket. She had made it clear In her handwritten instructions for her memorial service. She wrote, "They wouldn't take me out while I was alive so I don't want them to take me out when I'm dead."
We believe that "These things are going to satisfy us. This thing Or that thing is going to do it. I need to find this person, get this job, get this house, find this car, get that money, or position. And as soon as I get that, I'll be happy." But It just keeps betraying us. We get there, and it doesn't satisfy us. It wasn't meant to satisfy you, it was meant to meet a need. Only Jesus will ever satisfy us!
If we don’t put Christ first in our lives, then we have believe the lie over God’s truth, and no one would come right out and say…”I’m smarter than God”, but we say it with our lives. If God has told us that by seeking first the kingdom, all these things we seek after would be provided….and we seek the things, instead of the king himself, then we have believed a lie! Jesus told us that when He came the kingdom came in power.
If we want to see God move like he did in the early church, we have to be willing to do what the early church did. They didn’t chase after the miracles, and what Jesus could do, they chased after the Lordship of Jesus in their lives. (Not I but Christ in me, the hope of glory)
Their greatest desire was to get closer to him, to recognize his infinite power in their lives and see him miraculously help them with their problems. Seeing Him will change the way we see everything and everyone else. The Lord is the rewarder of all who diligently seek after HIM! We must come to the place that we sing, worship, praise and live for an audience of one!
In Matthew 16:5 Jesus asked His disciples and all of us today, “Who do you say I am?” This is the “rock” or the “cornerstone” that our faith is built upon. Not every “Jesus” presented in our world today is the “real Jesus”. To paraphrase the Motown classic of Marvin Gaye and Tammie Terrell “Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby!”
A little boy was saying his prayers and he prayed…."Dear God, please take care of my daddy and my mommy and my sister and my brother and my doggy and my cat and me. And, please take care of yourself, God. If anything happens to you, we're gonna be in a big mess."
Perhaps the reason on facebook and other places, that folks “like” Jesus so much is because they have created a “Jesus” of their own liking, a “Jesus” of their own pleasure, a “Jesus” of their own design and their own image? But is this “Jesus”, that the world seems to be affirming, “the real Jesus”?
There’s the Patriotic Jesus who is wrapped in our flag thereby the assumption is that all we do in America must be blessed by God.
•There’s the political conservative Jesus who is against budget increases and stands for “family values” and owning firearms.
•There’s Starbucks Jesus who drinks name brand coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid and wears only name brand clothing.
•There’s Open-minded Jesus who loves everyone all the time no matter what, except for people who are not as open-minded as they are.
•There’s Super bowl Jesus who helps athletes run faster than non-Christians and seemingly determines the outcomes of Super Bowls.
•There’s Hollywood Jesus who is meek and mild, with high cheekbones, flowing salon hair, and walks around barefoot, wearing a sash and looks like the guy from the 70’s musical “Jesus Christ Superstar”.
•There’s the Beatles Jesus who teaches everyone to give peace a chance, imagines a world without religion, and helps us remember all you need is love.
•There’s New Age Jesus who hates religion, churches, pastors, priests, and doctrine; and would rather have people finding the god that is within us all.
•There’s Revolutionary Jesus who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the “man” or “stick it to “system” as long as it doesn’t inconvenience or impact our own way of life or a promised privileged inheritance.
•There’s self-improvement Jesus who shows you how to get to the top of the heap, be positive, and become a better you. •(Lastly) There’s Lone Ranger Jesus who Tom T Hall sings about in the song “Me and Jesus got our own thing goin, Me and Jesus, got it all worked out. Me and Jesus, got our own thing goin. We don't need anybody to tell us what it's all about….
Would the “real Jesus” please stand up…And Yes, He has… Peter answered the Lord’s question with a resounding, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
I used to be under the assumption that this particular question of Jesus identity was a one time thing….declared and done– “Who do you say that I am?”. And that upon confessing that Jesus is Lord and answering this question correctly I would be free from having to wrestle with the answer of “Who do you say that I am?”. Well I want you to know that isn’t true. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time you have heard this question or the hundredth time – you and I will continually have to answer in this life – which Jesus am I following? And declare afresh, who He is!
Philippians 2:10 responds…“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, v11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
So if it’s the first time, or the one thousandth time Jesus is asking each of us again “Who do you say that I am? The situation, the circumstance, the experience, the condition, and the trial or test, demand that we answer it!
After a very long sermon the people filed out of the church and rushed right by the preacher trying to get to Sunday dinner. Towards the end of the line was a thoughtful person who always complimented the pastor on his sermons. "Pastor, today your sermon reminded me of the peace and love of God!" The pastor was thrilled. "No-one has ever said anything like that about my preaching before. Tell me why." "Well she said- it reminded me of the Peace of God because it passed all understanding and the Love of God because it endured forever!"
Our answer to the BIG QUESTION, will expose what it is that is motivating, inspiring and moving us forward in our lives…. Is it God’s BIG IDEA, or other trivial things?
I Corinthians 3:11 “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” And what a foundation it is!!!!
In Genesis, He’s the Creator & promised Redeemer… In Exodus, He’s the Passover Lamb….In Leviticus, the great High Priest…Numbers, He’s water in the desert…Deuteronomy, He becomes the curse for us… In Joshua, He’s Commander of the armies of the Lord… Judges, He delivers us from injustice… Ruth, He’s our Kinsman-Redeemer…1 Samuel, He’s the all in one, Prophet/Priest/King… 2 Samuel, He’s the King of grace & love…In 1 Kings, He’s a greater than Solomon…2 Kings, the powerful prophet…
1st and 2nd Chronicles, He’s our reigning King… Ezra, He’s the Priest proclaiming freedom… Nehemiah, the One who restores what is broken down….Esther, the Protector of his people…Job, the Mediator between God and man….Psalms – our song in the morning and in the night… Proverbs – He’s our wisdom…Ecclesiastes – our meaning for life…Song of Solomon – Author of faithful lover…Isaiah – Suffering Servant….Jeremiah – the righteous branch….Lamentations – He takes our place….Ezekiel – Son of Man…Daniel – the fourth man in the fire with us…. Hosea – faithful even when we are not….Joel –baptizer with His Spirit and fire…. Amos, He’s our burden bearer…Obadiah – He is mighty to save….Jonah – the greatest missionary….Micah – He casts our sin into the sea of forgetfulness…
Nahum – He is the avenger of God’s elect….Habakkuk – He brings revival..
Zephaniah – the Warrior who saves…Haggai – restores our worship…Zechariah – He is our savior…Malachi, sun of righteousness who brings healing… Matthew – the Messiah King…Mark – the servant… Luke,
He is the Son of Man, who feels what you feel…. John –God in the flesh…
Acts –the baptizer with power….Romans – the righteousness of God…
1 Corinthians – the attributes and character of God…2 Corinthians – He is the down payment of what’s to come…Galatians – He is our very life…
Ephesians – the unity of the church….Philippians – the joy of our life…
Colossians – He is our completeness…1st & 2nd Thessalonians – our hope
1 Timothy – the author of faith….2 Timothy – He is our stability…Titus – foundation of truth…Philemon, our Mediator…Hebrews, our High Priest…
James – He matures our faith…1 Peter, our hope in times of suffering…
2 Peter, He is our purity….1 John, He is our life…2 John, God in the flesh 3 John, source of all truth… Jude, He is our foundation….Revelation, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, The Alpha and the Omega, The Beginning and the End, and He is coming again to make all things new.
As Jesus is magnified and exalted in our lives, we will find ourselves amazed and astonished with His majesty and authority. Our praise and worship will be brought to new heights and new levels. He is the only righteous judge, He is the only sovereign Lord, He is the perfect reflection and revelation of God… With all the glory and splendor of Heaven and the age to come, nothing compares to Him.
As we walk with Him in the here and now, He gives us a foretaste of the day when we will see Him and be with Him forever! He’s the reason we rise in the morning, and lie down at night. In Him we live and move and have our being!!!
You and I are here, privileged to live in the land of the free and the home of the
brave, having heard the gospel which saves, heals and delivers, and we enjoy the
blessings of capitalism, and freedom of religious expression….all because of the
power of faithfulness. Many people refused to give up and quit, they beat the odds,
and remained steadfast in the face of great opposition. So many in a multitude of
significant ways, when it counted the most, they were faithful!
Luke 18:8 “Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall He find faith (pis'-tis) on the earth? One of the definitions of the Greek word “pis’tis” which is originally used here, is constancy of profession and fidelity, which is faithfulness. Which is also listed in Galatians 5 as one of the fruits of the Spirit.
Senator Mark Hatfield tells of touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa where the poor and dying, line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die, Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers faced every day. "How can you bear the load of all the suffering without being crushed by it?" he asked. Mother Teresa replied, "My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful."
So today I want to address the subject of “The Power Of Faithfulness”…
Faithfulness is never achieved and is not the result of how we feel, it is an act of the will! If we live by our feelings we will probably live a life of vacillation and inconsistency! Those who let their feelings and emotions run their lives will always find excuses instead of the privilege of being listed among the faithful!
A pastor was visiting one of the congregation who had not been in church that
Sunday. The man explained that his buddies had come by to invite him to go golfing
and he told his wife who wanted to go to church, that they would flip a coin and if
it came up heads, he would go golfing, and if it came up tails, he would go to
church, and that way God could decide by how the coin landed. The wife spoke up
about that time, and said… ”Pastor, they had to flip that coin 23 times before it
came up heads”!!! (so much for going by feelings)
How many millions, have been freed and brought out from under condemnation
by the concept of salvation by grace, and not by works? How many marriages have
been saved by the words of 1 Corinthians 13, "The Love Chapter?" How many
anxious hearts have been calmed by the peace that passes all understanding, or
the knowledge that God can work good in every situation? God has used those
scriptural concepts for centuries, for millions upon millions of believers. How sad it
is then, that we have used this grace which has freed us, and released us from the
weight of guilt and condemnation as an excuse for unfaithfulness.
(saying, “God will give me grace”)
We like messages about God's faithfulness to us, but His faithfulness is never in doubt, He will be faithful no matter what we do or don’t do. So it is not His faithfulness but ours that might need some work!
We are inspired by those throughout the bible narrative, who refused to quit,
no matter, how they felt. They didn’t quit until the task was done, and then they
went on to the next task….We don’t quit when we are tired, we quit when we are
done, when the assignment God has given us is completed.
A father was carefully explaining the story of Elijah the Prophet confronting the
false prophets of Baal to his children. He explained how Elijah built the altar, and
put wood upon it, how he then cut the steer in pieces and laid it upon the altar.
And then how Elijah commanded the people of God to fill four barrels of water and
pour it over the steer and the altar. He had them do this four times. "Now, said
the dad, "can anyone tell me why the Lord would have Elijah pour water over the
steer and on the altar?" The little girl raised her hand with great confidence and
said. "It was to make the gravy… mommy says you’re not done cooking till the
gravy is done,"
Hebrews 10:23“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering for
He is faithful that promised.” God’s not finished yet! The gravy’s not done yet….
When faced with the desolation of Jerusalem because of the nation’s sin, with
it’s walls torn down and the people in captivity…the prophet Jeremiah could
say of the Lord, “Great is Your faithfulness” because He knew that God wasn’t
done yet! Jeremiah knew that the same covenant that promised 900 years earlier,
that there would be accountability for disobedience also promised restoration for
repentance. God’s faithfulness would remain, no matter how unfaithful the people
were .God’s immutable faithfulness, served as an anchor for Jeremiah’s unswerving
faithfulness” You may be standing in the rubble of your plans and dreams, your
marriage, your family, your career, how you thought it would be….but friend you
can still cry out….God is faithful… and because He is, He’s not finished yet!!!
The bible indicates that faithfulness is one of the traits of spiritual maturity.
It is an indication of the image of Christ being reflected in us. Scripture is loaded
with examples of faithfulness throughout its pages. In the Old Testament, there
are Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, David, Daniel and his three
friends and many others. In the New Testament there are the Disciples, Paul,
Timothy and Titus and multitudes of unnamed and unknown martyrs for the faith as
well. But as in all the qualities of maturity, the Lord Jesus is our supreme example
and our incarnate model of faithfulness.
Galatians 2:20 “ I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who
live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the
faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”.
Ephesians 3:11 “This was according to the eternal purpose that God has
accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,v12 in whom we have boldness and confident
access to God because of the faithfulness of Christ”.
Faithfulness is like a rubber band, it has no power until it has been stretched.
It is in the soil of testing and struggle, that the roots of faithfulness grow deeper.
It is there that we cling more tightly and dig down deeper into His word.
There is a biblical principle which says, give and it shall be given unto you, full
Measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. Let’s apply this to the
subject of faithfulness…. We all want faithfulness from others: from our spouses,
colleagues, children and friends. Faithfulness has to do with trust, consistancy,
fidelity and loyalty. We want the folks putting a new roof on our house to be
trustworthy and also the mechanic analyzing what’s wrong with our car. We
expect labels on merchandise to be what they say… We entrust our mail to the
faithfulness of the postal service.
We want faithfulness in others. And we want it from products, institutions,
companies, and businesses.But as we are faithful ourselves, God’s word says we will
set in motion, and release faithfulness in these areas all around us. Our
faithfulness sets wheels in motion which will bring back to us, a full measure,
pressed down and running over!!!
With his wife’s birthday approaching, Tom went to the department store to get
his wife a little gift. How about some perfume?" he asked the cosmetics clerk. She
showed him a bottle that was $90.00. "That's a bit too much," said Tom, so she
returned with a smaller bottle for $50.00. "That's still a lot," Tom whined.
"I'd like to see something cheap.", So, the clerk handed him a mirror So he could
see something cheap!!
Faithfulness on all levels requires forgiveness. People, churches, our jobs, our
neighbors, our local, state, and national government, and businesses we deal with,
are flawed. People make mistakes. Organizations make mistakes. People are carnal,
This world is flawed and broken. People disappoint us. Organizations disappoint us.
But we have three choices: 1. Get even with those who have disappointed us and
wronged us, or 2.descend into the hell of our own disappointment (which means
getting bitter and cynical), or 3. forgive, and continue to serve and be faithful.
Your parents were flawed, Your spouse is flawed. They made mistakes, they
We are given a mandate for how we are to live, in Revelation 2:10 “Fear none of
those things which you shall suffer… behold, you will be tried; and you shall have
tribulation, but be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life”.
The Lord commended both the man who was given five talents and doubled it, and the man who was given two talents and doubled them, with the same words… ”Well done, good and faithful servant”….because it wasn’t about the amount, it was about faithfulness! When we are faithful, God takes care of filling in the amount.
There are 7 areas that God will use to evaluate our faithfulness, which we
should all be very interested in….
1.He wants to know if we have the right values.. This is about knowing what is important and what is not, what do I do now and what can wait, am I investing or wasting my time, energy and money?
Proverbs 28:20 says, “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one that is only eager to get rich will suffer the consequences.” Many have had to come to the place that they ask the question… “Do I own my stuff or does my stuff own me”?
Scripture is clear that we are to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you”.
2. Do you truly care about the circumstances and success of others around you?
We can become self-absorbed, so that everything is about my needs, my ambitions,
my desires, my goals, my hurts, my values, my profit, my benefit. The seagulls in
the movie “Finding Nemo” were always flying around yelling “Mine, mine, mine, mine”
But God desires that we be OTHERS-MINDED.
Jesus said in Mathew 22:37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart,and with all your soul, and with all your mind.v38 This is the first and great
commandment. v39 And the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself”. (Just
like you love yourself..)
A famous antique collector was walking through a city he was visiting when he
noticed a mangy cat lapping milk from a saucer on the floor of a store. He did a
double take when he saw what the cat was drinking from. He knew that the saucer
was extremely old, it was one of a kind, and very valuable, so he walked casually
into the store and offered to buy the cat for five dollars.The store owner replied,
"I'm sorry, but the cat isn't for sale." The collector said,"Please, I need a hungry
cat around the house to catch mice. I'll pay you thirty dollars for that cat." And
the owner said "Sold," and handed over the cat.
The collector, very casually, continued, "Hey, for the thirty bucks I wonder
if you could throw in that old saucer. The cat's used to it and it'll save me from
having to get a dish." To which the owner replied, "Sorry buddy, but that's my
best drawing card. So far this week I've sold twenty-three cats."(some folks are
always trying to take advantage of everyone)
3.Does what you say you believe, match the way you live? Or in other words,
do you have integrity? When God evaluates your faithfulness, he won’t be looking
at many things we may think are important, but he will be examining the way in
which we lived our lives where unbelievers were looking and interacting with us.
Living lives of faithfulness to the Lord is like taking a $l0,000 bill and laying it
on the table—and saying 'Here's my life, Lord. I'm giving it all.'And then he sends
us to the bank and has us cash in the $l0,000 for singles. And then go through life
giving a dollar of our life here and five dollars of our life there. Usually giving our
life to Christ isn't all that glorious. It's done in all those little acts of love and
service, one dollar at at time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it's
harder to live the Christian life little by little, faithfully over the long haul." May
we not hear Him say to us, “You are weighed in the balances and found wanting” in
4.Do you honor your promises to God and to others? God keeps a record of the
promises we have made…
Matthew 12:36 “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give account for it in the day of reckoning”.The Greek word for Idle, is
“ar-gos”, which means useless, or worthless.This word includes promises and vows
we make and never fulfill or follow through on them.
Nahum 1:15…”perform your vows, and the wicked shall no more overrun you.He
shall be completely cut off”.(have you made promises to God or man, that you have
not honored? It may be blocking your blessing or allowing the enemy an entrance.
5. Have you used and developed the gifts He has given to you? God has made a
huge investment in your life and mine and he is looking to see if we are using it.
1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each should use whatever spiritual gift he has received to
serve others faithfully, administering God’s grace in its various forms.” If you don’t
use and develop your gifts, you are stunting the growth of the body of Christ. We
can get so focused on what we wish we had, that we don’t use what we do have!
Faithfulness is measured by what we do with what we do have.
6.Have we been obedient to God? Sometimes we want a word from God,when we
haven’t been obedient to what He has been telling us. Peter said no to God 3 times
when God let down the sheet from heaven with unclean animals in it, but then he
said yes, and the rest is history…
Do what you have already been given to do, and then the heavens will open for
you and you will hear His clear voice. God says to His people in
*…Isaiah 30:16 “But you said, No to Me…” But God goes on to say in verse 19 “He
will be very gracious unto you at the voice of your cry. And when He shall hear it,
He will answer you. Then in verse 21 He says “And your ears shall hear a word
behind you, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when you turn to the right hand,
and when you turn to the left”. Obedience is another word for faithfulness.
Disobedience disqualifies us from coming to the next level of what God has for
us. The blessings of God can be blocked from flowing to us by our disobedience.
An exasperated mother, whose son kept running in and out of the house and
slamming the door, was getting very upset at him and yelled, Billy, either come in
or stay out… Billy was always getting into mischief, and always disobedient, and his
mom asked him, one day, “Billy, how do you expect to ever get into heaven?"
Billy thought it over and said, "Well, I'll just run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until Jesus says, 'For heaven's sake, Billy, come in or stay out.' And then I'll go in!" (Obedience is another word for faithfulness)!
7. Do you keep it, or do you pass it on? None of us would be here today if there hadn’t been faithful men and women in the last 2,000 years of the Church. We’re here today because some faithful men and women took the time to write down the Scriptures, and others preserved the Scriptures, and others translated the Scriptures, and others preached and taught the word to us. We’re here because of the testimony of faithful people.
Those who have faithfulness as a character trait, don't use people to build their authority, they use their authority to build up people. If God teaches you a spiritual truth and you’re learning a spiritual truth, it’s your duty to pass it on to others. Matthew 10:8 “Freely you have received, freely give”.
A Children’s church director was trying to teach her class the difference between right and wrong. All right children, she said, I want to give you an example," she said. "If I were to get into a man's pocket and take his billfold with all his money, what would I be?" Little Johnny raises his hand, and with a confident smile, he blurts out, "Teacher, You would be his wife!"
Luke 16:10-11 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and
whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not
been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?”
Faithfulness is not about settling for less… or that’s just the way things are….
Faithfulness is about Sowing and expecting to reap the harvest….The great good
news is that God isn’t finished with us yet! He who has begun a good work in us will
be faithful to complete it. He who has begun the work of faithfulness in us, will
complete it and that means He won’t let us stay as we are but He will keep chipping
away at us until we are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
If you feel like you’ve been sitting on the bench just watching the game, learn
the lesson God has for you and then get back in the game.
Faithfulness is about always growing and learning. Child of God, a better day is
coming for the people of God. What is incomplete will be made complete. What is
unfinished will be finished. What is lacking will be made full. What is partial will be
made whole. What is less than enough will be far more than adequate. What is
broken will be fixed. What is hurt will be healed. What is weak will be made
strong. What is temporary will be made solid and secure. God has promised to do it
and He cannot lie.
God has begun a good work in your life! Do you feel incomplete and unfinished?
Fear not, child of God. He will complete his work which He has begun in you, just
Better days are coming. He has given us the keys to the Kingdom, Days of
victory and days of rejoicing are not far away. Your present situation will yield to
the power of God’s faithfulness in your life. Whatever it is that you have to do,
God will equip you to do it. No matter how difficult, God has already started
arming you for battle, because that’s the kind of God he is. He never, never, never
calls you to any task without giving you what you need to get the job done.
God saying “I have made a down payment on your victory… I have secured it by
my signature in redemption’s blood. I have provided the substance you need and the
resources by the offering of my own body… I have given you a foretaste of my
overcoming power, as I have risen up, you also shall rise above that which would
hold you down and keep you from the blessing which I have laid up in store for you…
Let the weak say “I am strong”, let the sick say, “I am well”, Let the weary say
“I am refreshed”, Let those who have lack say, “He supplies all my needs, out of
His riches in glory”….TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS FAITHFUL!!!
Luke 10:38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. v39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. v40 But Martha was encumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.v41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things.v42 But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
The word “encumbered" which is used in verse 40, in the original Greek, is "periespato," which means "to be dragged all around by something" or "to be dragged away by something" We don’t use this word anymore, because instead we use instead the word “distracted”. So, Jesus was saying to Martha, “You are distracted by your serving”… Instead of hearing and learning from me, your mind is on all the details of preparing and serving.
Now Jesus on one occasion said, that “the greatest among you are those who serve” so what He’s saying here, is that she has allowed her serving, to sour her
attitude, and trouble her spirit, and pull her away from receiving and learning
from Him, which would bring peace and contentment into her spirit.”
Jesus had great praise for the church of Ephesus, but then ended up with a word of correction because something had happened to create a distance in the relationship. We can see this n Revelation 2:3,”You have been faithful and endured with patience and labored for my name's sake, and you have not fainted. v4 Nevertheless I have something against you, because you have left your first love”.
So, having read the words of Jesus, for the remainder of my time, we’re looking at the subject of “Putting First Things First…Therefore”
Therefore is a very biblical word, and I’m finding myself experiencing more and more “Therefores” in my life. I go outside in the yard, and try to figure out what I’m “therefore”… I go to the store and find myself looking around, trying to remember what I’m “therefore”… or I go to the store for two items and end up with a basket full, then get home and realize the I didn’t get what I originally went therefore!
Distractions can really make life interesting! Distractions can be like a big hole that stuff just disappears into!!! I was very distracted as I prepared this message on distractions…The problem with distractions is that they distract us!!! (I’m getting very deep here)
Jesus told Martha that she was being dragged around by many things… .what is it that we are allowing to drag us around and keep us from the commitments to Christ that we know we should make. Our friends, our job, our recreation and fun… is it our fears of what it would cost us to really sell out to Christ? What is the hole it all disappeared into? We can’t allow the noise of the world to keep us from hearing the voice of God.
What distracts us can begin to define our lives and identify who we are. As the great hall of famer, Joe DiMaggio said, “You don’t have to swing at every pitch”.
How often are we the willing victims to distractions, so, we can avoid dealing with those things we know we need to confront. How much further along would we all be, if it weren’t for the distractions? How much could we have accomplished, if we had remained true to ourselves? How many good intentions lie in the graveyard of distractions, still quivering and awaiting some chance at resurrection?
Distractions wait like hungry beasts,to devour our time, our energy, our dreams, and our very lives….Our lives get filled with so many urgent things, that we have no time for the eternal things. We have occupied ourselves with a million little things and left undone a lot of the things that have real lasting value. We have filled our days with things that are just about survival and neglected the things which could really develop and expand our lives for the better. We have done what was necessary and neglected what was essential. Days turn into months and months into years, and our lives have become gobbled up by distractions.
It’s happy hour at the local sports bar, and the cops are waiting just outside the parking lot, ready to catch any unsuspecting drunk drivers. A woman comes stumbling out of the door and gets in her car, clearly drunk. The police request that she do a breathalyzer test, and she complies. The test comes back positive, so the officers are escorting her to the police car, when the woman begins to laugh and said “It worked, it worked”… When the Officers inquired, she said “tonight, I am the Designated Distraction”. You see I’m here so my drunk husband could go out the back door and drive home!
Designated distractions can take you from good intentions to a train wreck!
You intended to go to church, you intended to help someone in need, you intended to pay your tithe, you intended to follow through, but you encountered some Designated distractions from the enemy.
Sometimes we need to say what the little boy said to the Devil, “Get behind me Devil and don’t push”…..that’s what designated distractions will do, they keep nudging you and pushing you and dragging you around in the wrong direction if you let them….
There are times when you have to take a firm stand against distractons….
We’ve got to push back by moving from pragmatism to passionate living. Where you are no longer being pushed around and driven by the world around you.
Passion is the craving of a heart that wants to experience the fullness of life in the Spirit, no matter what the cost. Passion is about being committed to a cause that is bigger than yourself and will shape you into a person who is larger than the distractions of life. Passion is like a fire burning hot at the core of your being. It means that your life is defined and directed by higher goals and purposes that have captured your heart and are directing what you do and where you’re going with your life. It means something is driving you that has liberated your will and set it ablaze. The fire in your soul, will burn through the distractions it encounters.
A pragmatic does things simply because they’re practical. It is more practical to get your needed rest than it is to get up a little earlier and make time for God. It is more practical to make the expected compromises at work than to take a stand and be resolute for what is right. It’s easier to go along with what everyone else is doing and thinking than to be different and have a God centered mindset. Pragmatism can easily choose the path of no confrontation and least resistance.
The fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives creates passion — a passion for God, for righteousness, for no compromise living, and for transformed lives. It makes all other passions seem unworthy and undesirable. When that happens we find that we are not just passing through life, but we are living with higher purpose.
Take a coal from the fire and soon it will dim and grow cold, but place it back in again and soon it will burn with intensity….STAY IN THE FIRE OF GOD’S SPIRIT!
Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the (higher) love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? v36 As it is written, For Your sake we lay down our lives all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the sacrifice. v37 For sure, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. v38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, v39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the “higher” love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Paul was not going to be subject to the designated distractions of anything, because he was consumed by a holy passion. If the love of Christ is not something you can be passionate about, then please tell me what is?
To push through Satan’s designated distractions, we must move from being fragmented and fractured to being centered and focused. We can no longer allow ourselves to be controlled by the tyranny of the urgent. When we do, our lives begin to be controlled by a thousand little things rather than the grand controlling theme of our God given purpose. If you start your day running you will never stop running. If you start your day with a Kay-sa-ra, sa-ra approach, your day will be unproductive, bland and pointless! Focus on keeping the main thing, as the MAIN THING. The problem is that the main thing gets crowded out by a lot of things that are not even related to the main thing
The National Transportation Safety Board recently divulged they had funded a secret project where they installed black boxes in vehicles an effort to determine, the circumstances in the last 15 seconds before the crash. They were surprised to find in 48 of the 50 states the last words of drivers in 61.2% of fatal crashes were, "Oh, My God"
The other two states were different, in those two states 89.3% of the final words were, "Hey Y'all, hold my beer and watch this! (having said all that)
(We are not an accident)! God didn’t put us here to just exist, we are designed to have abundant life. We are designed to live a successful life….It doesn’t matter if you were born in Africa, Asia, India, or Europe….Every baby has God’s DNA stamped upon it….Every baby born from rape or incest, wanted or unwanted, was born for success. God has breathed a part of Himself, a piece of His own super- natural life, in every one of us from the moment we were conceived in the womb!
We all begin this life whole, with singular purpose and higher calling, and then Satan begins his work at trying to fracture and fragment us. His method is now as it has always been….to divide and conquer….to divide us from our God source and from the support and mutual benefit of one another.
It is first vertical as an effort to cut us off from our creator, then it is horizontal, to separate us from the wisdom and counsel of those around us who can help us maturity and balance in life’s choices. And we come to a place where we just exist and we go through day after day fractured and fragmented, never focused and dedicated to what life really means “? what our higher purpose truly is. Never seriously asking “What am I here for “What is my higher purpose in this situation or experience”?
The way we handle distractions can reveal what we’re really made of and how much input God actually has in our lives. For example let’s say the neighbor’s garbage keeps blowing into Your yard with the help of some racoons… now consider some of the options you have. You can:
1. Take the garbage back to your neighbor’s yard and shred it to tiny pieces on their front porch or their yard, while mumbling death wishes under your breath.
2. You can call the police or your neighborhood watch leader. 3. You can go to your neighbor’s house and scream terrible things at them. 4. You can cut off all contact with the neighbor and sneer when they look your way. 5. Or you can knock on the neighbor’s door and explain the situation in a kindly, non-threatening manner. (We won’t ask for a show of hands)
See what you don’t know is that God has been preparing your neighbor’s heart for you to share Christ with them and pray with them and give them some biblical advice about some things they’re struggling with! The danger is that we will not recognize the opportunity…and burn bridges before we get to them. The most dangerous enemy anyone can face, is the enemy we haven’t recognized yet. Designated Distractions can be your worst enemy!
Hebrews 12:1-2 says we must focus on Jesus: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,let us lay aside every weight,(distraction) and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Paying attention to this, will prevent a lot of missed opportunities….
A wife said to her husband, "There's trouble with the car. It has water in the carburetor." The husband was a little confused and said, "Water in the carburetor? That's ridiculous, you don’t even know where the carburetor is." But the wife persisted, "I tell you the car has water in the carburetor.” To this, the husband trying to humor her, said "Look, even though I know that you don’t have a clue, where the carburetor is. I'll check it out. Where's the car?" In a quite voice, barely above a whisper, the wife answered… "In the pool”.
So many people just stumble through life from one emergency to the next with no eternal goals or any great or challenging purpose. The end result is that they live to just survive and they are robbed of the joy, the thrill, the wonder and the opportunities of life.
We need to come to a place that we move from stumbling through life, in a survival mode, to living in the WOW kind of life! Your dreams should scare you a little, but excite you a lot…. If we sincerely seek the purpose of all the places of our life, it is there that we will encounter the awesomeness and greatness of God.
We talked about Designated Distractions….I want to submit to you that the way to overcome Designated Distractions….is through planned neglect….
Someone once asked a famous concert violinist about the secret of her amazing ability in playing the violin. She said,“There are many things that used to compete for my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted, and did whatever seemed necessary. When I finished everything else, I then started my violin practice. That system prevented me from accomplishing all that I was capable of on the violin. So I reversed things and changed my priorities. I deliberately planned to neglect everything else until my violin practice was complete and I was satisfied with my session. And that program of planned neglect is the secret to my success.” Most of us need to reevaluate our priorities on a constant basis and implement “Planned Neglect”….
Michael Bassey Johnson wrote…“-We need more love,to supersede hatred.We need more strength,to overrule our weaknesses.We need more inspiration,to enlighten our core beliefs.We need more learning, to erase our ignorance,We need more wisdom,to live longer and happier.We need more truths,to counter-act our deceptions,We need more health,to enjoy our riches,We need more peace,to stay in harmony with one another. We need more smiles,to brighten up our day.We need more hero's,because we already have enough zero's.We need more change in ourselves,to positively influence the lives of others.We need more understanding, to revisit our misunderstandings.We need more sympathy and less apathy.We need more forgiveness, and less vengeance.We need more humility in order to be lifted up.We need more patience and not misdirected passion,We need more focus,to avoid distraction.We need more optimism, not the narrowness of pessimism.We need more justice, not more politics as usual. We need more facts, not fiction. We need more skills, not aimless dreamers. We need more challenges,to attempt greatness.We need more vision,to create the extraordinary. We need more helping hands, not stingy grabbers.We need more compassion,not social isolationism.We need more laughter, to pry us from our worries. We need more spirituality,not mere religion.We need more freedom, not the enslavement of entitlements. We need more peacemakers,not revolutionaries...and with these, we can have some sense of heaven on earth.”
And now in the “You came close but no cigar” category….Samson was called to be the deliverer of God’s people, but he got a “designated distraction”. Solomon was the wisest man to ever live, second to Jesus, but in his later years, he allowed himself to be undone by a “designated distraction”. Lot traveled with Abraham to the land of covenant and could have been listed among the heroes who paved the way for God’s people, but he let material possessions become his “designated distraction”. Adam and Eve could have enjoyed a perfect world, and could have passed that perfect world on down to all of us living today….but they caved in to a “designated distraction”.
I was thinking as I prepared this,of a guy who had a distraction sneak right up on him…and made him forget his priorities… He was driving through a residential area, when he saw the flash of a traffic camera. He figured that his picture had been taken for exceeding the limit, even though he knew that he was not speeding. So, just to be sure, he went around the block and passed the same spot, driving even more slowly, but again the camera flashed, so he drove even slower as he passed the area again, but the traffic camera again flashed. He tried a fourth time with the same result. He did this a fifth time and was now laughing when the camera flashed as he rolled past, this time at a snail's pace.Two weeks later, he got five tickets in the mail for driving without a seat belt.(check your priorities)
*….In our society of distractions…we have so many distractions that we are interrupting ourselves. The word no and wait, aren’t in our vocabulary. We must have the latest i-phone, The latest game program, the latest style… We are so used to instant stimulation and instant gratification, that society’s cry has become “I WANT IT AND I WANT IT NOW”!!!
*…..But If our priority is the knowledge of God, learning to walk with him through all of the conflicts, anxieties, difficulties, injustices of life, before you even realize it, you’ll be walking in miracles. Peter didn’t start out that day to walk on the water, but because that’s where Jesus was walking, he did too!! And we rob ourselves, if we let ourselves to be shaped by a culture of instant everything!
*….We must master our stuff and not be mastered by it. We must find a balance in all the things which compete for our time and attention. We must organize our internal world so we can distinguish the significant from the insignificant, the important from the mundane. We must learn the importance of spending undistracted time alone. And we must count the cost daily of walking with Him.
Only in thoughtful silence and meditation, can we order (or re-order) our lives by what God has revealed to us of himself in his love and his amazing plan. If you focus only on the shiny stuff that glitters for the moment, at the end of your life you will find that your hands are empty and your life is barren.”
Our greatest challenge in life is to become God-centered in our thoughts, God-fearing in our hearts and God-honoring in all that we do.
*…..The Lord groups all our distractions into 3 areas… There are the (cares of life or our worries) – The Greek word for worry is merinma, which means “pulled in different directions.” Then there is Riches (or the love of money) – You can be so busy making a living, trying to make money to pay the bills and get out of debt that you miss what God is doing.
And last on the list is Pleasures –pleasures, aren’t bad in themselves, they are usually a good thing. But you can get so busy pursuing pleasures and fun that you forget your purpose.
Let me ask you a few questions this morning. What is your main purpose in life? What is your second most important purpose in life? What is your third most important purpose in life? Now let me ask you, “Does the way you are living your life truly reflect those goals?” Today is a great day to move from pragmatism to Spiritual passion, from being fractured and fragmented, to being spiritually focused, and from wandering through life, to living a WOW kind of living!!!! *…..On the other side of your distractions, is your destiny. God is giving us some key principles that we can apply in making the transition from our current situation to our destiny. When you experience these distractions we have mentioned and others as well, know that you are getting close to achieving something that will take you to the next level in your life! God has brought us together at this time, to give attention to the price tag that is on our distractions, which stand between us and our destiny. He’s always near, to help us master our stuff and not be mastered by it. To give us balance in all the things which compete for our time and attention. Lord you’re here to help us to organize our internal world so we can separate the important from the mundane. To teach us the importance of spending undistracted time alone with you. To soak in Your presence and once again to hear your voice speaking into our inner being. To renew our purpose and rediscover Your plan for us in each situation and experience of our lives. For we give you the glory and ask that we might honor You with every area of our life journey.