Colossians 1:19 “For it pleased the Father that in Jesus, all the fullness of the God likeness would dwell. v20 And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, that through Him, all things might be reconciled unto himself, and that means all things, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. v21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he made available your reconciliation. v22 This He did for you in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight”.
The Greek word used here for reconciliation, is apo-kata-llassō, which means, “To remove all that would separate us, to reverse our situation”
In the middle of the word is the phrase “Kata” which means from us-ward to God-ward.
The process of reconciliation will often bring us into a confrontation which I will call, the “Do”, the “To”, and the “Who”…
We struggle and become tangled in the Matrix which is created by what we do, and we begin to accept that, as who we are... Someone who has stolen then wears the label of “Thief”… Someone who has told a lie, gets the label of “Liar”… Someone who has cheated gets the label of “Cheater
That person who offended you, 10 years later has a label you put on them as “that person who offended me”..It’s the process that builds a web, ensnaring us and convincing us that what we have done is now and forever who we are. It’s like saying that because we eat at McDonalds, that makes us a “Big Mack”…(now they have a double Big Mack) UUUUCK!
The problem that comes when your do becomes your who… is that you begin to look for loop-holes in the rules and regulations that govern all our lives, so you can justify your “who”, because if you can’t justify it, then you will need to reconcile it.
Just before the death of actor W.C. Fields, a friend visited Fields' hospital room and was surprised to find him thumbing through a Bible, because Fields was well known for breaking every rule and every principle in the bible. When he asked him what he was doing with an open Bible in his hand, since he never read it, Fields replied, "I'm looking for loopholes my dear, I’m looking for loopholes."
Speaking of loopholes, I recall reading about a golfer on the pro tour who wasn’t doing well, and he started hustling amateurs while on tour for $50 a hole. One day he was approached by a *….man wearing dark glasses and carrying a white cane who offered to play him for $100 a hole. Even though the professional was in a slump and could easily beat the amateurs, this was even below his scruples. "Why, I can't play you," the professional protested. "You’re blind!" "Yes, I am," replied the blind man. "But that's all right. I was a state champion before I went blind. I think I can beat you." So the Professional thought to himself, blind or not, if the guy was crazy enough to challenge him...well, why not, I’ll take his money? "You did say $100 a hole?" The blind man agreed. "Well, all right then, It's a deal. When would you like to play?" "Oh, any night this week, will be fine," replied the blind man. "Any night at all."
This guy could never defeat the professional in the daytime at the level of the Professional golfer, so he got the pro golfer to play on his terms, then he had a very good chance of beating him…without having to change who he was. We would say that the blind guy found a loop hole, which he could use to change the odds and get the odds over in his favor….
Webster’s dictionary defines a loop-hole as“an ambiguity or omission in the text, so that the intent of a statute, contract, or obligation may be evaded” also, it is defined as “a means of escaping the true purpose of an agreement or obligation”.
One Sunday morning, the preacher’s sermon was about Forgiving Your Enemies. As they moved toward the end of the service, He asked his congregation, “How many of you have forgiven your enemies?” About half the folks held up their hands. He then repeated his question. Since it was past their lunchtime, this time about 80 percent held up their hands just to get it over with. He then repeated his question again. Everyone responded, except one small elderly lady. “Mrs. Jones?” inquired the preacher, Are you not willing to forgive your enemies? “I don’t have any.” she replied. smiling sweetly, “I’ve outlived them all”.
That loophole means that you don’t have to forgive them if you can just out live them…..
There are folks who make their living by finding loop-holes, we call them lawyers, and there are a lot of folks using them, to avoid the consequences of contracts, obligations or their own actions. There are all kinds of loopholes….Some Catholics have found a great loop-hole, just sin all you want, go to the priest, confess, dump your sin in the confessional, and start all over again….WOW!
There are those who use the grace teaching loop hole….confess your sins repent, and you get forgiven, and when you do it again, God has forgotten all about it…. “Lord, I did it again”….You did what…I don’t remember!.... Wow, what a great loop-hole… it’s like the revolving doors of grace….!
Now I’m not trying to give anyone ideas here…. I’m just stating the fact that for someone looking for loop holes, they will find them and perhaps fool everyone, BUT GOD!
Let me get to the second thing that tries to prevent folks from reconciliationand that is the “To” which is connected to their “Who”.
When my adoptive mom took me home at the age of 3, to raise me, she was totally committed to giving me a loving, caring home. But her children and her husband, never really accepted me and as a result, I grew up with a lot of rejection. What they did to me, greatly affected my “Who”… or who I came to identify myself as. I began to become an angry young man. I began to put up defensive walls around myself, in order to deal with the insults and rejection. This was to shut things out so they didn’t penetrate. What was done to me, was becoming who I was.
We can continue to curse the darkness or light a candle….Don’t let what others have done to you, determine who you are and will become. We can choose instead to be reconciled.
Joe Theismann enjoyed a history making 12-year career as quarterback of the Washington Redskins. He led the team to two Super Bowl games -- winning in 1983 before he lost, in the following year. When a leg injury forced him out of football in 1985, he was forever embedded in the record books as Washington's all-time leading passer. But at the end of Theismann's career, he said, “I got stagnant. I thought the team and the Redskin organization, revolved around me. I had the wrong attitude and the wrong priorities. Today I wear two rings—one you can see and one you only I can see. I wear the winner's ring from Super Bowl 17, and the loser's ring from Super Bowl 18, which no one else can see,. The difference in those two rings is that one of them I earned, before I started making excuses for myself”.
Someone has said that life is a continuous process of being reconciled with things we had never expected to happen.
Our entire lives, Satan has placed people and circumstances in our lives to make sure that what is done to us, will cause us to make excuses for who we’ve become. And we fall deeper and deeper into the web which he has woven. As a result, we begin to see who we are through the lens of those experiences. We get good at the blame game, so that the very people that Christ came to redeem, have put up such a wall of defense and have become so good at finding *….loop holes, that they miss the biggest loop hole of all which God provided when He sent Jesus to give us all a way out, and to reconcile us from all the “Do” and all the “To” that have occurred through the many experiences of our life.
A blind man was out walking with his seeing-eye dog when suddenly the animal paused and wet down the man’s leg. Bending down, the man stretched out his hand and patted the dog’s head very lovingly. After watching what had just happened, a bystander said, “Why are you patting him? That dog just lifted his leg on your pants!” “I know,” said the blind man, “but I’ve gotta find his head before I can kick his butt.”
(well anyway it takes and internal change to keep from always reacting to all the things that the world around us has done to us)
2 Corinthians 2:14 “Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the unmistakable greatness of the knowledge of Himself unto us in every circumstance”.
Many see the teachings of the bible as something that will restrict their fun and keep them from doing all the things they want to do in life. They think that they will be branded as a party pooper and a religious nut if they really allow Christ to enter their world as Lord and King.
I like what one guy said…. He said, “If I make Jesus Lord of my life, and He’s right, I’ll be in heaven. If I don’t and He’s right I’ll be in Hell, but even if there is no heaven and no hell, the teachings of the bible still produces the kind of people that make the world a better place in which to live.
We can have information, but it is a better thing to have revelation. But even with revelation, there is no guarantee that you will have a better life and that you will get what you want in life. Because you can have information and revelation but still refuse to put it into action through obedience. It takes information plus revelation plus action, to receive what God says is available to us.
An example of the difference in information and revelation took place during the Middle Ages and there was an account about Saint Martin of Tours, the saint that Martin Luther was named after. In the account, Satan appeared to St Martin in the disguise of the Savior himself. St. Martin was ready to fall at his feet and worship this majestic being of glory and light. But as he prepared to do so, he looked at the palms of his hands and his feet and he asked, "Where are the nail prints?" instantly, the apparition vanished, for it has been unmasked.
Satan may deceive many, by giving them loop holes to avoid going God’s way, but he can never duplicate the marks on Jesus’ body which were placed there for our salvation, and justification. Often it is not bad things which cause men and women to miss out on the best life that God has waiting for them, but it is all the good things, which become the substitutes for the best things. Do I choose the Good, or the Best? We make those choices every day of our lives, all day long…
Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over our nation's deserts. All that vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that smelly, rotted diet. But hummingbirds look for the beautiful, colorful, fragrant blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the dead things of the past. They fill themselves with what has come and gone. But the hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new, fresh, vibrant life. They fill themselves with the nectar and the sweetness of life. Each bird continually finds what it is looking for. And what it expects to find, it finds….And so do we all.
God describes this struggle with the “do” and the “to” of life, in…
Genesis 3:15 “And there shall be enmity (hostility and hatred).between Satan and the woman, and between Satan’s seed (sin and carnality) and her seed. And it shall bruise (break, crush, and overwhelm) Satan’s head (position, power and authority), and he shalt bruise the heel (to take by surprise, to come from behind, sneak up on the blind side) of her offsprings”.
Adam and Eve had a fantastic relationship with God. God provided all the necessities of life for them and he placed them in a beautiful garden. What else could they desire? They were created in God’s image. Since God did not want puppets that he could manipulate, he gave them a mind to make their own decisions. But one decision they made, was because they thought God was doing something unfair to them…. (there’s the do and the to, that is connected to the who)
So, because they didn’t understand that the rules were not meant to restrict them but to protect them, they decided to disobey God.The relationship had changed, God still loved them, but their view of God had changed, because their view was now usward and not Godward. Because of this usward view, many have given up on God because they want Him in their own image. But if He were to become in their image, He would then cease to be God and we all would be the biggest losers!
A missionary, was given a car but he discovered that it would not start unless you pushed it. So, he would always park it on a hill or leave the engine running. If he couldn’t do this, the children would all get behind and push. He did this for two years. When his term was up and it was time to leave, a new missionary came, and he began to explain to him what he would need to do to get the car started. The new man began looking under the hood, and exclaimed, no wonder it won’t start, the battery cables are loose. He gave the cable a quick tightening, got in the car, pushed the switch, and the engine roared to life. For two years the missionary had put up with a situation that could have easily been solved. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept him from putting that power to work.
The reason we need God’s plan of reconciliation is because we have a bad connection, and a lot of things aren’t working like they should, because that connection needs to be restored. One of the meanings of reconciliation is to become reconnected….Don’t let your connection get loose through lack of prayer, reading God’s word, and staying in touch with fellow Christians.
One of my wife’s favorite writers is the poet, Elizabeth Barrett. Elizabeth suffered an accident when she was a child, and was a semi-invalid, which caused her father and mother to be highly protective of her. When she married Robert Browning in 1846 their wedding had to be held in secret because of her father's disapproval. After the wedding they sailed to Italy, where they lived for the rest of their lives. But even though her parents had disowned her, Elizabeth never gave up on the relationship. Every week she wrote them letters. But not once did they reply to any of them. After 10 years, she received a large box in the mail from her parents. When she opened it, with excitement, she found all of her letters… not one of them had been opened!
Today those letters are among the most beautiful writings that can be found in classical English literature. It is certain that if her parents had only read a few of them, their hearts would have been changed and the relationship with Elizabeth would have been restored, but they were never opened.
How true that is with the letter which God has sent to all mankind, yet so many remain at a distance, still looking for loopholes, still unchanged. If they ever truly received what the Father has said to them, surely their hearts would be touched and they would be reconciled back to the Father’s amazing grace and love. There is nothing which can compare with the eloquence and grandeur of what God was willing to do to reconnect us.
I love you, and I truly want all that God has for you, but I’ve got to tell you, if it meant that I had to tell my son or daughter that they had to die in order for you to come into your God given destiny….I’m afraid you would be in a heap of trouble!!!
But that’s exactly what God did for each of us… Because the penalty God gave for sin, in the garden of Eden, was death, God had to honor His own penalty. You see, every part of God’s spoken word had to be constant and steadfast, or none of His word could be trusted.
This is what God said inGenesis 2:16 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, v17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die”.
God had to be true to His word, so He, Himself, God in the flesh, had to become the one to pay His own penalty… so as Adam’s offspring…son of Mary, He was born to die, so His word could be trusted for all men….
Romans 5:17 For if by one man's offence(lapses and offences) death reigned, much more they which receive God’s abundance of grace (unmerited favor) and of the gift of righteousness(putting them in right standing with himself) shall reign in life by Jesus Christ, (the Messiah, the anointed one)” This was all done that we might reign in life and not be the victims of life!
A change on the inside will automatically bring about a change on the outside. I can study health foods, and know all about vitamins and suppliments, but until I get them on the inside, they won't do me a bit of good. If I have pain, I can have knowledge of painkillers and what's in them and how they work, but until I put it inside my system, I will continue to be in pain....
The moment when a person looks up, because they have come to their lowest point and through the tears, gets a revelation of the outstretched arms of Jesus waiting, for them to come to him. And that person prays that life changing prayer…. “Lord, Jesus, I am sorry for all that I have done wrong. I am sorry for all my sins and the mistakes in judgment I have made. I believe you came to this earth to save sinners just like me. I believe in your birth, your death, and in your resurrection. I believe you have a place for me in your kingdom. I am asking you to come into my heart this very moment and make me a new creation. I love you and praise you and thank you for your love and your salvation.” Amen.
At the very moment the Holy Spirit takes up residence in a person’s life, they are no longer the person they used to be.
Reconciliation means that instead of Satan, spiritual death, sickness, disease, and poverty reigning over us, we reign over them! As part of my new identity and my new position in Christ, as my king, I rule over Satan, my circumstances and experiences of the past. The moment I am reconciled, I begin to experience the reality of the price that Jesus paid for our sins at Calvary. All-round rest and peace, a new position and a winning attitude, the authority and power of Christ, all are guaranteed to us, in Jesus’ Name!
Paul said to the Ephesians, and to all of us as well… Ephesians 5:17-20 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. So then, we are now become ambassadors for Christ…”.
The powerful lyrics of a song by Bill and Gloria Gaither, say- "There's a line that is drawn through the ages; On that line stands an old rugged cross; On that cross, a battle is raging; For the gain of man's soul or it's loss; On one side, march the forces of evil; All the demons, all the devils of hell; On the other, the angels of glory; And they meet on Golgotha's hill; The earth shakes with the force of the conflict; And the sun refuses to shine; For there hangs God's son, in the balance; And then through the darkness he cries; It is finished, the battle is over; It is finished, there'll be no more war; It is finished, the end of the conflict; It is finished and Jesus is Lord”
The word “redound”, is found no other place in the entire bible…so I thought that was
very significant…Here’s the scripture where we find the one time use of this word…
2 Corinthians 4:15 “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. v16 For which cause we faint not, and though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed (or re-aligned) day by day. v17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
The word “redound” in the original Greek is “per-is-syoo'-o” and it means “excessive,
over and above, more than you imagined, abundant, and beyond measure”!
Whenever the family is home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it seems like we
always have a “per-is-syoo-o” meal, because we all eat as much as we hold and there
are always plenty of Left-overs for the next day and for snacks. (how many love left-
overs)? How many love EXCESSIVE, OVER AND ABOVE, MORE THAN YOU CAN
CONTAIN, ABUNDANT, BEYOND MEASURE….MORE THAN ENOUGH!!!!
I want to read that same scripture which we read before from the message bible…..
2 Corinthians 4:15 “Every detail works to your advantage and to God's glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise! v16 So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. v17 These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration He is preparing for us. v18 There is far more here than meets the eye”.
I used to use the drive-through window at the bank a lot, because it’s convenient. But it seemed that no matter which lane I chose, it ended up being the slowest, and longest lane of all.. It got so I would predict that no matter what lane I chose, it would be the slowest….Winnie said to me one day, you’re getting what you expect….So I started saying “watch this, no matter which lane I choose, it’s going to be the fastest”… and sure enough, everything changed!
What I want to say to all of us today, is that we may not be saying it out loud, but our self-talk may be convincing ourselves that bad stuff will always happen, and whatever we do, Murphy’s law will always find us!Ants end up on our food, and flies always find our pick-nick lunch!Negative faith is still faith! And it will manifest tangible substance in our lives….Someone said that “The tingly sensation you get when you realize you love somebody, is what it feels like when common sense leaves your body”….
I’m reminded of the wife who woke her husband up at 2:00 in the morning because she heard a noise downstairs. Someone is in the house, she said. Oh, you are always hearing stuff, the husband said. But she insisted and he took a golf club in hand and went downstairs. Sure enough, there really was an intruder in the house. The husband said…look, don’t be alarmed, I just need you to come upstairs and meet my wife… she’s been expecting you for years now!!!!
That’s exactly what we are told in Hebrews11:1 “Now faith (even negative faith) is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.What we expect to happen, begins to have dominion over our lives…..and rules our thoughts.
If I rub a screw driver against a magnet, it will magnetize the screw driver, and the screwdriver will begin to act just like a magnet…. This happens because the atoms in the magnet re-align the atoms in the screw driver and when that happens, it’s called a “domain”…
The screw driver is now referred to as a “Domain magnet” The screw driver now has dominion, and will attract other metals (are you with me?)..
Genesis 1:26 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion”…This Hebrew word means ( to rule over, to reign over, to subjugate, to take by superior power) We are all like magnets…we are re-aligned by God’s superior power, and He has given us dominion… to act like Him!
We read God’s word and the Holy Spirit begins to re-align us…. We pray and as we are in His presence, the Holy Spirit starts re-aligning us…. Someone begins to speak God’s truth into us, and we begin to experience re-alignment!
Scripture tells us that we are re-aligned by truth….2 Corinthians 13:8 “For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth”. (We do not shape truth, but truth shapes and re-aligns us). That’s why we are told that the truth shall set us free indeed….because we can begin to make the transition over into “per-is-syoo-o”
That’s why Romans 8:31 In all these things we say, If God is (“per-is-syoo'-o”.. excessive, over and above, more than you imagined, abundant, beyond measure) for us, then who can be against us? (how can we lose)
Take a look at …Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ, (my way of seeing, judging and experiencing things) nevertheless I live, yet it is not I, but Christ living in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”.
To live by the faith of the Son of God, is “To be Faved”…. This means I now have the favor which comes by His faith which has come to bear upon my emotions, intellect and will and has re-aligned me to act as He would act, as I allow the faith of God to operate in me….
That long wait at the post office or the DMV can be a frustrating and negative experience. Or it can be “Faved” and seen as a tremendous opportunity to either meet a new friend or to take this time to pray, meditate, and be re-aligned. It can be used of God for an eternal impact in the life of someone else. With an attitude of redounding Grace, it can be seen as a chance for you to be a domain magnet!!!
This is a good place for …2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. v18 And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. v19 This means that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, ….and has committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation”. (or the opportunity to take dominion over the situations and relationships and transform them) But too often we say nothing and no word goes forth to act as the catalyst of change….
Once upon a time there was a prince who, through no fault of his own, was put under a spell. (that’s what the enemy wants to do to us) The spell caused him to only be able to speak just one word each year. But he could save up the words so the following year he was allowed to speak two words.
He met a beautiful princess and fell madly in love. With great self-discipline, he decided to save his words so he could look at her and say, "My darling."But then he decided to tell her that he loved her, so waited three more years without speaking. But then he realized that he wanted to ask her to marry him. So he waited another four years. Finally, nine years later, his joy knew no bounds.
Leading the lovely princess to the most secluded and romantic place in that beautiful royal garden the prince heaped a hundred red roses on her lap, knelt before her, and taking her hand in his, he said romantically, "My darling, I love you! Will you marry me?" (nine words!) The princess tucked a strand of golden hair behind a dainty ear, opened her sapphire eyes in wonder, and parting her ruby lips, said: "HUH?" (back to the drawing board)
The good news is that we never again have to be stuck in a situation, if we understand the power of redounding grace!
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall be sustained by the fruit thereof”. (So be sure to taste your words before you send them out)!God gives us the opportunities to turn opposition into gates of breakthrough and advancement and instead of retreating, we begin to triumph and take new territory for Him.
This is the prayer that Paul lifted to God as he believed for the church in his day….
Ephesians 3:17 “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that you, may be rooted and grounded in love, v18 and be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height v19 and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. v20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that is now working in us.”
Paul is praying that the church would get a clear view of redounding grace so they might understand what is possible as they allow Christ to work in and through them in every situation.
Peter and John got a revelation of redounding grace, as they were bound in prison and God blew the doors open…. Paul and Silas experienced it as they were in the lower parts of the dungeon and began praising God, the prison was opened up and all the prisoners and the jail keeper were saved… the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace experienced redounding grace in the form of the fourth man who showed up in the fire with them….and John the revelator experienced it exiled on the Isle of Patmos, as he was in the spirit on the Lord’s day and gave unto us the book of revelation….Nehemiah faced incredible odds as he set out to rebuild the broken down walls of Jerusalem. He encouraged the people with God’s word, and everyone became re-aligned by God’s truth, so that the enemy was held back and the wall was completed.
Because of this Redounding Grace, a shepherd boy, was able to stand before Goliath and declare, *….1Samuel 17:47 “And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear, for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands”.
Change happens because at a cultural level, things begin to shift as people become aware of the reality of God’s truth. As the atmosphere changes, and we encounter the greater measure of His grace, suddenly we find ourselves thinking and seeing differently than we had before.
The anointing bypasses all the intellectual barriers and people begin to believe things they couldn’t believe before.There’s a gateway of fresh revelation that we go through, and when we go through it, we clear the way for others who will be following us down the road. We have been made spiritually alive so that we can bring others into that same spiritual place of understanding and experience which we have been brought to.
Our circumstance or situations in life do not have to dominate our thoughts, our words, or our actions….Some people have a way of getting on our last nerve….
One lady said that her mother-in-law asked her for her phone number, so she told her how to set up on speed dial. They agreed that she would type in MOM….That way every time 666 showed up on her ID, she would know that it was her mother in law!!!
What we think and how we think, will determine the direction we are headed in life whether we want to end up there or not. This is why Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”.
Instead of judging our outcome by the negative things around us, every child of God should be meditating on at least 14 scriptures, that will open them up and release the redounding grace of God. We must train our emotions, intellect and our will in the language of the Word of God….
1.) How about…Matthew 19:26 “With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~ 2.) Luke 1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God. ~ 3.) Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. ~ 4.) Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.5.) Matthew 17:20 If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you.” ~ 6.) Genesis 11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people are one, and now nothing will be withheld from them, which they have imagined to do. ~ 7.) 1Corinthians 10:13 God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape…..8.) John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ~ 9.) Mark 11:24 Whatsoever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you have received [them], and you shall have [them]. ~ 10.) Isaiah 41:10 Fear not; for I [am] with you, be not dismayed; for I [am] your God: I will strengthen you, yea, I will help you, yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. ~ 11.) Jeremiah 32:17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, you have made the heaven and the earth by Your great power and stretched out arm, [and] there is nothing too hard for You ~ 12.) Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? ~ 13.) Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. ~ 14.) Psalm 91:7-11 A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD, which is your refuge, even the most High, your habitation. There shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
How many believe this is a much better thing to fill our minds with than a lot of negative stuff?
With our redeemed mind, we are constantly putting together a virtual model of our new reality. Our mind uses the material we give it, to do this with. Our eyes, ears, touch, taste and past experiences, are all the building materials for this. However, we also tell our brains constantly, which things have the greatest priority. As Christians, our greater reality, is the truth of God’s word as that applies to the world around and within us.
The person you’re observing is dealing with dual realities. There is the physical reality and the virtual reality which only exists in images of his mind. To the outward observer. His actions make no sense, but to someone who is into his reality, everything has a purpose which others cannot make sense of…(for those viewing the Power point)…The next slide is called augmented reality, where a gymn floor suddenly produces a whale breaking the surface of the water without any glasses or viewer….
I start with God telling Abram that he would be the father of many nations, while he was childless… Then God changed his name to Abraham, “father of many”… so that everyone would be confessing his new reality every time they called his name!
I didn’t appreciate my name… until I found out that my full name means “Man who is a Christ Bearer in the spirit of Elijah”.. Now I enjoy writing it out, because it declares something into my life….
Since we are a Spirit first, which has a soul or intellect, that lives in a body, we are constantly deciding what our greater reality is…. There are many levels of truth, there is intellectual truth, physical truth, and spiritual or eternal truth.
Christ has told us to place God’s eternal truth above all other truth.
We are told in Acts17:28 “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.”Jesus told us in John 6:63 “It is the spirit that quickens the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”.
Here He is telling us that His words are designed to quicken our spirit man, and that lets us know for sure that His word should be our greater reality. What we place greater value on, will be our treasure. What we treasure, we will place in a secure place, so we have it when we need it.
Luke 12:31 “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you. v32 Fear not, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. v33 Provide for yourselves treasure in the heavens that fails not, where no thief breaks in, and the moth cannot corrupt. v34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. Whatever we have stored up in our hearts becomes our treasure.
Satan wants to use physical pain, emotional hurts, and negative thoughts to defeat us. But no matter what the circumstances are we can be "prosperous," and "have good success," because if we’ve filled our storehouse with God’s word, then what’s in our heart will come out of our mouth... and that word, God's Word, will have the power within itself to cause itself to come to pass! The word is the seed of it’s own fulfillment!!
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
I want us also to see where it says in Romans 8:5 “For they that give priority to the flesh focus on the things of the flesh; but they that give priority to the Spirit, focus on the things of the Spirit”.
So once again we see that the counsel of God, is to continually re-align our focus on the things of the Spirit, which rule over, and have influence upon the things of the physical world. We actually have a guarantee from God about this…
In Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing that I sent it to do. v12 For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. v13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign and it shall not be cut off”.
We are the point of entry, where the Spirit of the word, comes in contact with our circumstances and the areas of our influence in the earth. We are now the answer to God’s prayers…“That His kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
Let me give you an up front example of this subject…..The flesh says, let’s have a day called Thanksgiving, and on that day, let’s eat and celebrate, connect with family and friends, be thankful and enjoy the benefits that life has given us…..The Spirit says….Let’s live out Thanksgiving every day of our lives for as long as we live!!!!The flesh says, come on….let’s not bite off more than we can chew…Relax and just go with the flow and don’t try to lift more than the flesh can handle.
If you will look over your shoulder every once in a while, you will notice that you are never alone, you have some constant companions with you. For want of a better name, I will call them by the name we are the most familiar with…. “fear”,“inconvenience”, and “risk”. You can be ruled by these visitorsor you can harness them for your personal gain. The choice is up to us.”
The power of failure and the power of success are with us in every step we take in life.
“Should we avoid doing all the worthwhile things we really want to do, because of these shadowy figures?” “Is being comfortable and keeping things safe and familiar worth never taking a chance”? “Is putting it off over and over, the way to really live?”
Indecision in these areas can mean that an individual feels trapped, but often it’s a prison of their own making.
Fear says exactly what it always says….because it’s all about “False Evidence Appearing Real”… You’re not good enough, You’re setting yourself up for failure….This is way over your head… there are too many who are way more qualified than you…etc.
Inconvenience says “don’t rock the boat, settle down.. Why leave your comfort zone.. The feeling will pass, but you know that to surrender to inconvenience, will lock you in a revolving door that will go around and around, going nowhere.
And of course Risk has to have a say…. Risk reminds you that the world is flat and you’ll just fall off the edge if you get out there far enough. Why take the chance, It could get rough and dangerous… You could lose everything you’ve worked for!
There is a part of us that desires to do the right thing, then, there is that part of us that is wanting to take the easy way out. While a part of us yells out for us to take charge of our own lives. It just might be time for a meeting!!!
We all have good intentions about things we’d like to do and things we’d like to see done in regard to our own lives and in our relationship with Christ, and even in helping others find Christ. We all have causes we’d like to support. And we fully intend to do that. But then when it comes time to either write that check or take the time off from work for a cause other than ourselves, or to buy the plane ticket or sign on the dotted line, we hesitate and we procrastinate. A son wrote his parents and told them he hadtaken a vow of poverty. Would they please send money to test if it was working…….
We don’t procrastinate because we don’t believe God is telling us something, butit’s because those 3 shadowy companions,“inconvenience”, “fear” and “risk”, keep showing up!The Bible keeps reminding us that we are always better off when we allow God to be in charge of our lives, and surrender to His leading.
Believe it or not, Jesus wrestled with all these things himself. “He was tempted in all manner as we are”….and as he faced the cross, the battle became incredibly intense, because all of these shadowy companions of “inconvenience”, “fear” and “risk” were all yelling and pushing and shoving against Him.
Matthew 26:36 “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, "Sit here while I go further on and pray. v38 Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me. v39 Going a little further, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." v40 Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with Me for one hour?" v41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Jesus’ spirit was willing to obey the Father’s will to the point of death, but his flesh sought to escape the ordeal….The call of the flesh was so strong and the struggle was so intense, that capillaries in His face hymoriged and Jesus’ sweat was as drops of blood falling to the ground.If even Jesus can feel this struggle, there is no shame left in it for us, our only hope that we, too, might keep learning how to say, “not what I will, but what you will, o Lord.” Not just at the hour of death; but every hour of our lives.
This was the first blood that Jesus shed in the work of the cross. This blood was the assurance to every one of us that because He overcame the struggle with “inconvenience”, “fear” and “risk” we shall be able to also!!!J. C. Ryle said “Let us live like men on enemy ground, and be always on our guard”
This is why Paul is inspired to write in Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. v3 For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, that you do not become weary and faint in your minds”.
We all start life with a what’s-in-it-for-me attitude? All children start out this way, they are selfish. It’s about what’s convenient, what contributes to my peace, what’s comfortable for me….. There was a little jingle that said…(Me, me, me, I’m in love with me, me, me. There will never, ever be, a one as wonderful as me..)
A customer walked into a service station to have his car worked on. As he watched, the mechanic on duty was changing the oil, testing the motor, checking the air pressure in all the tires, including the spare, and buffing over some spots on the rear bumper. The mechanic thoroughly scrubed his hands and begin cleaning the upholstery in a blue truck.The customer walked over to the service manager, and pointed to the meticulousmechanic, hoping to get him to work on his own car. "I’ve been watching that guy, and I’m impressed. He looks like a greatmechanic." "Oh, yes he is," laughed the service manager, "especially when he’s working on his own truck!"
When Absalom, David’s son, was seeking to drive him from off the throne, David cried out “My own flesh is trying to take my life.” In the same way the weakness of our own bodies and it’s appetites and desires, tries to drive us from being in charge of our own lives, and squeeze the very life out of us. Instead of ruling our bodies, our bodies rule us….Absalom is always lurking in the shadows, looking for an advantage…..
Someone said, “If I had it to do all over again, I would just be too tired”.
Paul tells us of the Corinthians who were caught in this trap. They thought they were spiritually minded, but theirego was always taking control.
1 Corinthians 3:1 “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-minded infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for meat. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like selfish children”?
That flesh will can also be called our ‘Ego”….The acronym for Ego is“Edging God Out”. Even those who know better, must fight against the subtle, selfish call of Ego….Ego’s objective is to put a dark force around an individual, so that spiritual truth cannot penetrate, and do it’s transformative work..You can know the bible cover to cover, and still fall prey to this subtle and shadowy companion which follows us all and dogs our steps..
In recognizing this, Paul says in Romans 7:18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature (or ego). For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do, this is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin (or ego)living in me that does it.
Some folks may be weak when it comes to food, and whenever they find themselves hungry, they try to eat up everything in sight…..Some folks may be weak when it comes to alcohol or drugs, they don’t have the strength to say no…..Some folks may be weak when it comes to controlling their anger, when somebody says something or does something that they don’t like.Some of us are weak when it comes to handling our money, and our credit cards… We all have weaknesses of some sort, in some area… our problem seems to be that just when we thought we had a handle on life, the handle keeps breaking.. so, we don’t judge other people’s sin, just because they sin differently than we do.
God and Adam were walking through the Garden of Eden, discussing various things. At one point, Adam says, "Wow, God, you sure made Eve awfully beautiful, just amazingly beautiful!" And the Lord said: "Yes, my son, that is so you would love her completely." After a brief moment, Adam commented, "But Lord,why didn’t you make Eve a lot smarter?." "Ah, yes," said God, "that is so she would be able to love you." (we’ve all got faults)
We all need a good talk with our EGO! Ego puts ourselves first instead of God. Our ego constantly wants the center place in our lives. Ego is the root cause of every moral problem in our society.
Paul says…1 Corinthians 9:27 “I crucify my flesh man (or ego) and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I will not be disqualified for the prize”.
Abortion is preferred, over giving birth because of what is best for ego, and not the unborn. Homosexuality is embraced because our ego convinces us perversion is preferred over Bible truth. Drugs are used because the ego is looking for a feel good high so it can compensate for what it cannot control.Ego not only edges God out, it edges everybody else out of our lives.
A mortician at Forest Lawn Cemetery in California was asked, "What was the most expensive funeral he ever had there?" The mortician didn't have to search his memory. A man with a huge ego, had left his ex-wife and children almost nothing, but had provided wastefully for his own final farewell. He had designated about a 250,000 dollars for his funeral. First, a bronze casket was bought for around $80,000, and a beautiful rose window grave marker was created for $70,000. But after these and other expenditures, the mortuary still had about $100,000. What next? Their solution was orchids--one hundred thousand dollars worth! And how many attended this $250,000 extravaganza? Exactly four people, his wife and his three children.
We need to save ourselves from ourselves. Proverbs 14:12 says,"There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. v15 The foolish believe every word: but the wise man is insightful in his dealings. v16 A wise man is cautious, and departs from evil: but the fool rages, in his confidence”. Many things have changed over the last 2000 years since Christ died, but some things are still the same old same old…..
Twenty first century people are still living out the old idium, "If it feels good, do it" in ever greater numbers today, but with even greater and more destructive consequences.(Isn’t that what got Adam and Eve and all the rest of us in trouble?)
Paul saw that the gentile churches were seeking the glory for themselves, that belonged to God alone. They were naïve enough to believe they were seeking God’s glory, when they were actually edging God out in their motives and their behavior.When we steal God’s glory we rob ourselves of His power and give Ego more and more power. Every problem the gentile churches had can be traced to their desire to have their own way, and their own glory. Today every problem in the home and in the church can be traced to the same cause.
Paul wrote, Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature [ego] with its passions and desires. v25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. v26 Let us not become prideful, provoking one another and envying each other”.
When God gets the glory, we experience His life giving power. God gets the glory when we allow His will to be done in our lives to accomplish His purposes.
A woman said to her guest at dinner, "We say grace at every meal, to remind us around here that there is something bigger than our own egos."
I usually avoid conversations that begin with “Did you hear about so and so..? But folks will say, “Did you hear of so-and-so falling into sin?” The truth is, no one ever sees any one “fall into sin.” You only see them when they finally landed. They have been falling and slipping back for a long time. The question comes back to each of us….
Are you totally yielding all of your stuff to God? Or are you feeling you can get by without prayer or studying the word. That’s always the deception of the flesh. It’s one step away fromletting ego get back in the driver’s seat!!!.
Jesus broke the power of ego in His prayer….and we must learn to pray as He prayed…. ”Never the less, Not my will but thy will be done”. As we mature as Christians, we begin to realize that prayer is not always to get our will done in our lives.
For us to pray the prayer of Jesus, God must bring us to the end of ourselves. It is then that we begin to understand that God’s way is the best and only way.
Esther understood this as she was brought to the end of herself as she was called upon to save the Jewish people. To do so she would have to risk her own life. There is no other way out. She simply says, “If I perish, I perish.” In doing so she defeated her ego, and allowed God to step into her life in a powerful way.
Daniel was brought to the end of himself when he was thrown into the Lion’s den. I like to be reminded that Daniel was probably around 80 years old when he was thrown into the Lion’s den. This lets me know that it’s never too late to come to the end of yourself and step into the beginning of God’s better plan.
When we come to the end of ourselves, the end of our resources, and the end of our ability, we may think God is out to destroy us, but he isn’t. He merely desires to transform us into the image of himself. At the end of yourself you will come to the beginning of God’s best for you.
Romans 6:1 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on walking in our own way, so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to our ego, how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live in His new life”.
The disciples fully intended to stand watch while Jesus prayed….but the shadowy force field of ego, began to surround them and keep out the spiritual impact of the moment. They went from standing to sitting, from sitting to lying down and soon they were asleep! The signature statement of all procrastinators comes to mind…OK, as soon as I get around to it…
Or how about this one….“The best thing about procrastination is that you are never bored, because you have all kinds of things that you should be doing."
Joan Konner said "The great thing about procrastination is that it always gives you something to look forward to tomorrow."
Mark Twain said "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
Christopher Parker said “Procrastination is like a credit card; it’s a lot fun until you get the bill.”"And last…. “Someday is not an actual day of the week”…..
Procrastination can take on historic proportions.
It is reported that Colonel Rahl, commander of the British troops in Trenton, New Jersey, was playing cards when a courier brought an urgent message stating that General George Washington was crossing the Delaware River to attack. The Commander put the letter in his pocket and didn't bother to read it until the card game was finished. Only then did he realizethe seriousness of the situation. He hurriedly tried to rally his men to meet the coming attack, but his procrastination was his undoing. He and many of his men were killed and the rest of the regiment were capture and Washington succeeded in part because of help from the shadowy figure of procrastination.
In the story of Jonah, it was not until he faced a life and death crises, that Jonah began to repent and cry out to God for his procrastination, in the belly of the fish. He ran from God till he couldn’t run anymore….God has a way of bringing folks to that same place!
Jonah 2:2 “He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” This tells me that Jonah actually died, and God brought him back to life in order to fulfill the call on his life.
Here is good news for everyone. When you call out to the Lord, He will listen. Even if you have been running from the Lord, He will help you. Even if your life is ebbing away, He will help you. . . It does not matter how you got there. You can rationalize about it all day long. You can try to find someone to blame and look for some other solution. It does not matter how deep and how hopeless looking your trouble and your trial is, even though you may think it is too late for you…
Jonah’s life hung in the balances, if he had continued to rebel against God and yielded to the three shadowy companions…. Of “inconvenience”, “fear” and “risk”.. We would have a totally different outcome to his story. When Jonah stopped running andcried out to the Lord, he was delivered.
You can wash and perfume a pig and he will walk right back into the hog pen to wallow in the mud. You can throw a sheep into the mud and he will quickly get out. Their natures are different. The spiritual nature and the fleshly nature are opposites. A lost man can enjoy the call of the flesh and not want to stop, while a saved man is miserable when the flesh begins to take over and he will quickly find the way out.
God will begin to bring you out as soon as you turn to Him, receive and accept that, in spite of everything, He still has a better plan for you!.The redemptive work of Christ at the cross will give you a new start in life and another chance at faithfulness. If you repent and pray for forgiveness, you can start over again, no matter where you’ve found yourself.
He’s not limited to your condition, your handicap, your circumstances or your limitations and barriers…. He says… Because I have overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, you shall overcome also in my name!
Jesus in us is greater than the soul-suckers that want to suck the life right out of you and leave you on the trash heap of life.The Need to stay on top of all our demands, the need to feel like we’re accomplishing things, running from pillar to post, needing to feel needed, needing to justify our existence through activity. There’s always something else…..But where is God in all of our activity?Do we take time for the most important thing….our relationship with the Lord, and time spent replenishing our spirit….
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, might also be stated as “the spirit is willing but the flesh is too busy.”We can so easily be distracted from prayer, worship, or a kind act by hunger, exhaustion, feeling too cold or too hot, thirst, pain, our biased opinions, and even a persistent itch. The flesh shouts loudly when it wants something, and the ruckus it makes can easily drown out the desires of the spirit. Even when the spirit is willing to do whatever God asks, the flesh remains weak when it comes to submitting to Christ.
Jesus spoke to this condition Matthew 6:25–26 “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Wemust commit to enter His rest. It takes “Nevertheless” to say “no” to compulsive activity and constant mulling over our lists of things to do. It takes “Nevertheless” to give priority toSabbaticals. Jesus said that many had not entered into his Rest or His finished works because of their unbelief (or the force of “inconvenience”, “fear” and “risk””.. .
Hebrews 4:9 There remains a rest to the people of God. v10 For he that is entered into My rest, has also ceased from his own works. (that’s works in order to earn righteousness or spiritual points).
Rest begins when we realize that God’s purposes are accomplished through God’s power and not our own, and that the only person who is not expendable in the Kingdom of God is God Himself. Rest is letting go: Letting go of our own sense of self-importance, our sense that no one can take our place, and our fear that things will fall apart without us.Rest is about spending time with God, time that’s about God alone and letting nothing else crowd it’s way in, because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
Paul's answer applies to all of us. Galatians 3:3 "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?"
There is a truth that needs to come crashing over all of us like a forceful wave. This is it:
Time is very democratic. Each of us gets exactly the same amount, every day of our lives. We don’t get to choose what family we’re born into, or what DNA will shape our bodies and brains. We don’t get to choose the nation of our birth, or our skin color. But each of us gets 24 hours a day to inhabit and take possession of, for as many days as we have. And whatever we’ve done yesterday, whatever mistakes we’ve made, whatever time we’ve dissipated or squandered or lost, we’ll get 24 brand new hours tomorrow, and a chance to use them differently than we may have used them before.
What if we all made a promise to ourselves to never again say “I don’t have time,” because that surrenders the wealth and power that God gives me every day of my life… the power to choose what I will do with the time given to me each day, whether I will work, and be busy, without sacrificing worship or prayer, or rest and service to others.
Progress requires practice. God wants us to begin training for reigning…..Don’t wait for someone to invite you, or till a position opens up….begin wherever there is opportunity….
If you have a gift for teaching children – If you find it easy to relate to youth –If you have a caregiver’s heart –If you have a gift for music –If you have a gift for leading –If you have a gift for sharing the Good News – If you have a gift of hospitality – If you have a gift of serving the homeless, the hungry, and the poor…. Begin now, find opportunities, get involved, make yourself available…..no more excuses!
Through Christ, we can find strength to love our enemies, and to love one another… Through Christ, we can find strength to forgive those who hurt us…
Through Christ, we can have peace in the midst of a storm…
Through Christ, we can have joy in the midst of sorrow….
Through Christ, we can overcome addictions, faults, bad habits, or any personal issues…. Through Christ, we can reach our goals, and achieve our dreams….
No matter what we may be going through, just know that we can find strength in the Lord to move on with our life and make better choices to receive the blessings that He has for us, and to claim the victory over every weakness…in the time He has given us…..
Her name was Joy and she was a gym teacher. She taught countless children in her rural Minnesotaschool to be physically fit. Ironically, she didn’t practice what she preached. Shewas a stranger to personal exercise. But all that changed in 1986 when she took a three mile walk.
Then she started jogging and running in 10 K races. Joy Johnson ran her first marathon at the age of 61. A few years ago she told a reporter about her exercise regimen. She would wake up at 4 A.M., drink her coffee while reading her Bible, and then set out on aneight mile pre-dawn run. When she got up, she always said, “It's going to be a good day today”.
Joy was inspired by the words of Isaiah 40:31 "But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
At the age of 86 Joy Johnson ran her 25th New York City marathon becoming the oldest person to finish the race. She went to her hotel room, laid down on the bed and went to be with the Lord just the way she hoped she would, with her running shoes on. Her daughter said, “Joy ran for God, Now she runs with God”.
The well known prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi is a great guide to victory over the flesh. “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace: Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is discord, harmony; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is error, truth; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy; O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek: To be consoled as to console; to be loved, as to love. For, it is in giving, that we receive; It is in forgetting self, that we find ourselves; It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned; And it is in dying, that we are born into eternal life.”
So as we go, let’s receive the pastoral blessing….
“Be blessed of the Lord, to wake each day and marvel at the gift of time you have been given, new and fresh and unspoiled each morning. Whatever you do, or don’t do with that time, may you find a fulfilling, holy order in your own life— With God’s help, may you know what is possible in your own life, as you become more intimate with the God who made you. Go out into your work time and your leisure time and get to know God better this week. For in knowing Him you will find yourself. Allow Him to help you with how you spend your gift of time, talents, and resources. And remember that where you serve, you will be served, where you give you will be given, and if you show yourself a friend you will never lack a friend. It is God’s unending cycle of the amazing program of His grace”!
(and I’m not talking about “The animals are comin', two by two the elephant and the kangaroo, and no one knew where they were at, till they bumped into Mt. Ararat…) Nope, I’m talking about Mark 6:7 “And Jesus called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth two and two, and gave them power over unclean spirits v12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent. v13 And they saw many delivered, and they anointed many with oil that were sick, and they were healed”.
The disciples had only been with Jesus a short time, when He sent them out to share the gospel, and spread the word about who He was. He knew that the best advertisement in the world was for them to demonstrate the gospel, not just tell it. So He commanded them to heal the sick and cast out devils in His name. As people everywhere, not only heard the gospel, but saw it’s power at work, they began to come by the hundreds.
What was true then, is true today….the condition He gives for us to do His works, is simply to believe on Him…..then we become the sent ones, who are called to go out and do His works.
Take a look at it for yourself…John 14:12 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father”. Jesus has presented the finished work to the Father so that we can do the works…..
There is a story of a farmer who was always putting things off. He said that he and God were working together. Lightning had hit the old shed on his property, and saved him the trouble of tearing it down. Then it rained and saved him the chore of washing off his car and his tractor. The cats were catching mice so he didn’t have to feed them. A strong wind came up and blew all the apples out of the trees, so he didn’t have to pick them. When someone asked him what he was waiting for now, he said, "I’m waiting for an earthquake to shake the potatoes up out of the ground."
That’s called the Moses syndrome…. When God told Moses to speak to the people and to Pharaoh, He said “here am I Lord, use Aaron”. Even though God had assured Him that He would be with his mouth.”
Well, we say that we want to see folks come to know Christ and experience His salvation, but we expect someone else or God himself to do all the work. We’re willing to pray, to support the church, and to show them by example, but when it comes to actually doing the witnessing and praying the sinner’s prayer with someone, that’s for Aaron to do….
When you think about it, God implemented this “Two by Two” policy all the way back to Genesis…. We all get intimidated, we don’t always bring our “A” game to the field, and we feel more confident with some back up!
At the beginning of it all, in Genesis 2:8 God said it is not good for man to be alone. I believe this is one of the reasons that Jesus sent the disciples out two by two….
I recall my college days, when I was part of the Teen Challenge outreach team, and every week-end, when I wasn’t ministering in different churches, the team would go out into the red light districts of Philadelphia and down into the Ghetto areas, to share the gospel and lead folks to Christ. We always went out in twos and we were told that the person who got the opening in a conversation would share while the other person prayed for the Holy Spirit to lead them. Then we would all gather for a time of testimony to share what God had done!
There is nothing as exciting as leading someone into a transformative relationship with Christ. I’m still hearing from folks we led to Christ, 40 years later! Every salvation is a new stream flowing out into the world, that will touch and open other streams. That happens when we are willing to change so that we can be the change!
Sharing the gospel is a risk, but we take risks every day….To laugh is to risk looking like a fool. To weep is to risk looking too sentimental. To reach out to another is to risk being pulled into their needs. To expose our feelings is to risk exposing our true self. To place your ideas and your dreams before strangers is to risk loss and misunderstanding. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair and disappointment. To try at all is to risk failure. But to risk we must, because the greatest hazard in life is to never take a risk. The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.
Jesus told the disciples as He sent them out, that the need of the people was very great, but that there are very few who are willing to do the work. Jesus commanded them to pray that the Lord would send out more laborers to minister to the needy and desperate. (be sure that we make that part of our prayer list and our “to do” list) Be the answer to someone’s prayers!
Speaking of Two by Two….we see this concept everywhere….A few well known duos are Batman and Robin, Tom and Jerry, Holmes and Watson, Bonnie and Clyde, and Simon and Garfunkle….Then you have peanut butter and Jelly, ham and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs and on we go….(you can’t have one without the other)
Perhaps you never noticed, but I find it interesting that when the disciples are listed in Matthew, they are listed in pairs. This is how Jesus sent them out, He sent them in twos, it reads this way…
Matthew 10:2-4 "Simon, and Andrew; James the son of Zebedee and John; Philip and Bartholemew; Thomas and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite and Judas Iscariot."
Always in the Bible God seems to link his workers together. So we see that Moses is joined to Aaron, Joshua to Caleb, David to Jonathan, Paul to Silas, and Peter to John.
But the two by two strategy is more than a tactic for advancing a cause. I submit that spiritual growth, as well as spiritual survival, is much more likely when two are related together in agreement and partnership as spiritual encouragers in a mutual commitment for success.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. v10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls, for he does not have another to help him up. v12 “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him and a threefold cord is not quickly broken”.
Many Christians flounder in their walk of faith because they are their own counsellor, teacher, coach and pastor…. They have never allowed another person to speak into their lives and give an objective opinion and let them see themselves outside of themselves. Their theme song is “Me and Jesus, have got our own thing going, me and Jesus, have it all worked out, me and Jesus have our own thing going, we don’t need nobody to tell us what it’s all about”!
And they end up suffering unnecessarily, and they go through many trials of their own making….The person who tries to be a Christian alone gets to be a very odd Christian, something is off kilter. Have you noticed that? What the "Buddy System" means at a summer camp, is what Jesus wants to happen when Christians assume responsibility for each other!
The tragedy is that we so many times we have closer ties to those who are outside of the faith, than we do with those in the body of Christ, because we have forgotten our primary mission…. Of bringing folks to Christ and making disciples of all people. Two are better than one!
In a partnership, we cover each other’s blind spots. We are all masters of the art of rationalizing and justifying our behavior and decisions. Each of us have blind spots. Many motorcycle accidents occur each year, because of that little blind spot which every car has. It’s small, but it’s large enough to hide an entire motorcycle. So an error is made and a rider dies…. It’s just a small blind spot, but the rider is still just as dead.
God even brought the animals into the ark, two by two to assure their mutual survival. It’s God’s way of setting something in motion that is generational. Our strength, faith, wisdom learned from experience, will create a culture which will insert it’s self into the generations which are yet to come.
One minister has called the Christian life "a long series of obediences, all stretched out, moving us in the same direction." That should be our attitude as our church bears witness to Christ. Our society will change, but our message won't. There will be times of extraordinary openness to the gospel; other times will be marked by rejection. We cannot control the conditions of our society or the ways men and women will respond to the gospel. But we can choose faithfulness to Jesus and his message. And by God's grace, we will discover the joy of "a long series of obediences stretched out, moving us in the same direction."
Most of the time we do not want correction for our blind spots. I recall the couple who were always fighting and quarrelling, and they knew that the marriage was doomed if something didn’t change. So they decided that they would give each other space when their fuses were short… The husband said, that he would wear his hat sideways if he had had a bad day and was in a sour mood. The wife said that she would put her apron on sideways when she was in a bad mood… And it really went great….they hardly ever quarreled or fought, until he came home and her apron was off kilter and his hat was sideways….
Oliver Wendell Holmes, doctor and poet, says,"You may set it down as a truth which has few exceptions, that those who ask your opinion really want your praise, and will be contented with nothing less." The truth becomes boring, and once the good intentions wear off. We surround ourselves only with people who are related to us in such a way that they cannot be truthful with us, then all we can hope for is the barren echo of our own desires”.
Encounter groups, and seeker friendly methods, can only fall short, if we don’t have someone who can tell it like it is, even if it’s not what we want to hear! Accountability is not the same as agreement.
Bob forgot his wedding anniversary, and his wife was really angry. She told him "Tomorrow morning, I expect to find a gift in the driveway that goes from 0 to 200 in 6 seconds AND IT BETTER BE THERE!" The next morning he got up early and went to work. When his wife woke up, she looked out the window and sure enough .there was a gift-wrapped box in the middle of the driveway. Confused, the wife put on her robe and ran out to the driveway, she opened the box and found a brand new bathroom scale. Bob has been missing since Friday.
Amos 3:3 “How can two walk together, except they be of like mind”?
It is to our shame that it’s such a rare thing to find a friendship in which there is no possibility of exploitation. A friendship that is cemented in a strong bond of total confidentiality. A friendship with another person, who does not want your job, your house, your wife, or your influence. A friendship with some- one who is equally aware with you of your mutual dependence upon the grace of God. A friendship with one who will not drop you if you fall, or be envious if you succeed.
The Lord puts us into these “two by two” relationships in areas we are like minded and in areas where we are different. It would be dull to be joined to someone who was exactly like us, and a bit too painful to be joined to someone who was totally different from us. Meaningful friendships involve points of likeness and areas of contrast. It’s the salt you put on grapefruit to make it sweet instead of too tart!
Matthew 18:19-20 "Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done by my Father in Heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there in the midst of them."
Being joined in agreement to other Christians in this manner, we stand a better chance of keeping our faith strong and steady as we go. Isaiah tells us that It’s easy to "mount up with wings as eagles" when all is well and right with the world. It’s easy to be stirred up by occasional excitement and the crescendo of life. But it’s another thing "To run and not be weary." And to stay with it and keep at it day in and day out, and "To walk and not faint." THAT’S THE POWER OF TWO OR THREE IN AGREEMENT!
When there’s two, they maximize the joys and minimize the downers.
Sometimes we protect ourselves against the very intimacy that we so badly need and crave.
In the book, “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” by Hannah Green, a young disturbed teenage girl finally got out of a mental institution and tried to win a place in the every-day world. The writer says "Although Deborah had gone to choir practice at the church and sewing classes at the high school and even a teenage outing club, she went and she shared her sewing machine, she shared a hymn book, she gave and received a 'good evening' and a 'good night' and everyone was most polite and so was she, but they always had their walls up against her."
The Message Bible tells us that when Jesus sent the disciples out two by two, He said in Luke 10:4 “Travel light, and take no extra baggage”.
It’s all our extra baggage that keeps us from the power of agreement in the kind of relationships Jesus wants to bring into our lives…That baggage creates static that interferes with good communication.
I’ve heard it said that… In the first year of marriage, the man speaks and the woman listens. In the second year of marriage, the woman speaks and the man listens. In the third year of marriage, they both speak and all the neighbors listen.
The first group that Jesus sent out two by two, were the 12, then we are told that the next group He sent two by two were the 72… that’s a 600 percent growth, through relationships!
When people get in agreement, there is multiplication and strength. Growth is the product of Godly relationships. The Lord was calling them to be an extension of His own ministry. They were not only in a covenant agreement with one another but they were to align themselves with Christ in such a way that the power of their agreement would produce healings and deliverance in the lives of others. Jesus is always in agreement with salvation, healing and deliverance!
May we pray for the openness and the courage to let “TWO BY TWO” happen in our lives. God is in total agreement with that prayer! This is God’s pattern for a new community and a new covenant people… We are never very far from the very ones that God wants to partner us with, in a mutual relationship that will transform all of our lives. So, keep your baggage at a minimum, and travel light!
Scripture tells us that “Jesus sent them out, He said “Go Out”…two by two”….and remember that the Jews were a very closed community… this was not their normal tendency…It really went against their first impulses. Their norm, was to go inward, not outward, to stay in the culture, stay in the familiar, stay in the group…..But here Jesus is saying, “Go out” into the highways and byways and compel them to come in.”
I’ve thought about that word “compel”, and I realized as I studied for this message, that the compelling He’s talking about is through the building of relationships. There are many who will never come into the faith, or into the church, except through relationships. We know it as “friendship evangelism” or “Friend-u-lism”…It’s what happened with the disciples….
John 1:40 “And one of the two which heard John speak, and followed Jesus, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. v41 He went and found his own brother Simon, and said unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. v42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, You are Simon the son of Jonas, you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. v43 The next day, Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and find Philip, and He said unto him, Follow me. v44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
*….v45 So, Philip found Nathanael, and said unto him, We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. v46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? And Philip said unto him, Come and see. v47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! v48 Nathanael said to him, how do you know me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. v49 Nathanael said unto him, Rabbi, you truly are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel”.
What a beautiful example of “Friend-u-lism”.
Sometimes we say, “The world is not interested”. “People out there are really hardened to the gospel”. But Jesus always says the world is hungry. There is a harvest out there and it’s ready to bring in…. Jesus says when you go, don‘t go alone. Go two by two. The Christian life can‘t be lived alone. The Christian work can‘t be done alone. It’s lived through relationships. We need the companionship of one another to either keep us encouraged or keep us on our main mission and keep us honest.
If it’s not our problem, our answer is often, Don‘t worry about it! On the morning of December seventh, 1941, 353 Japanese airplanes flew through the skies, on a mission of massive destruction as they headed toward Pearl Harbor. Within a couple of hours, America would lose eight battleships, six major airfields, almost all of its planes and two thousand four hundred of its servicemen. Just prior to the attack it was a beautiful day. The attack happened at 7:50 in the morning. Fifteen minutes before the attack, while the planes were still 137 miles away, two soldiers, on a radar station in the islands, scanned a radar screen. As they did, they saw dots beginning to emerge on the screen and then more dots, until it seemed like their whole radar screen was filled with dots. They summoned their commanding officer, a young lieutenant. No other officer was around, since it was Sunday morning. The lieutenant studied the radar scan for a while, and then concluded that the planes were probably out of California. And he dismissed the planes, without another thought, saying these crucial words: ―Don‘t worry about it!.
How many folks have heard Jesus’ call..Mark 16:15 “Go and preach the gospel to every creature. v16 He that believes shall be saved…..v17 And these signs shall follow them that believe”. And as friends and coworkers, family, neighbors and folks we see every day are on their way to an eternity without God….. We say….. “Don’t worry about it”…
Bill Gaither’s song “Joy comes in the morning”, says it so well….“To invest your seeds of trust in God in mountains you can't move, You have risked your life on things you cannot prove. But to give the things you cannot keep, to keep what you cannot lose, is the way to find the joy God has for you”.
Doctors have claimed that the discovery of chloroform was one of the most important discoveries to ever happen in the medical world, because it saved people from being operated on without a sedative and eliminated the torture of surgery. But when someone asked the discoverer of the medical use of chloroform, Dr. James Young Simpson, what he regarded as his greatest discovery. He replied, ―”My greatest discovery was when I discovered Jesus Christ as my Savior”.
We are told that when the disciples returned, after being sent out, they rejoiced that the sick were healed and devils were cast out, but Jesus told them to rejoice over one thing, that people had believed upon Him and received His salvation.
Some students at a local ministry seminary needed a place to play basketball, so a custodian agreed to stay extra hours to let them play in a nearby public school gym. The janitor happened to be an old black man and he would sit in the stands read his Bible while they played. One day they asked him, “What are you reading?” and they expected the old man to say, ―I‘m reading the Bible. But instead, the old man said, ―I am reading the Book of Revelation. They were surprised at this response. “Do you understand it?” they asked. “Well yes, I do”, he responded. They were surprised that this janitor was saying, ―I understand such a deep and mysterious book of the bible as Revelation… So they asked―If you understand it, tell us, what does it mean? The old janitor scratched his head and said, “It means that Jesus is a-gonna win”. Praise God, because He wins, we win!!! When we obey, He’s in charge of the results!
The Kingdom is open to new partnerships…. To discover the power of agreement….Philippians 1:6 “For we are confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”…
Life can get really confusing, and with all the mixed signals along life’s highway, and all the twists and turns we experience, at the end of the day, we all need to know if our efforts have made a difference, and if anything has really changed for the best because we are here. People come and go and are soon forgotten, as a new crowd comes along.
5000 professionals from around the world were interviewed to find out what makes a person truly happy. The results were very revealing and showed some common traits.
It revealed that happy people have learned to balance their work and their personal life. They serve others and have positive expectations. They accept imperfections, forgive and move on. They laugh, joke and have a sense of humor. They don’t live for the approval of others. They Live with a sense of gratitude. They say YES more than they say NO. They usually speak well of others. They let go of control, and they listen.
Albert Einstein is credited with the hallmark question, “Is the Universe friendly?”…. Einstein says that he was given credit for many things that were actually spoken or discovered by other people…..as Yogi Berra once said, "I didn't say all those things I said." – in other words, all the things people gave him credit for saying were said by other people…..
In this case, the question “Is the Universe friendly?” was first asked by German zoologist and Theist, Ernst H. P. Haeckel (1834-1919), in a thesis which he put forth. Many felt that it was a central question at the heart and core of every school of social, historical, and scientific thought.
Einstein said that science can never truly prove a theory—they can only disprove the ones that are not true, for the truth stands on it’s own. He says that one of the driving forces behind his research into the inner workings of the universe, was the question “Is the universe a friendly or hostile place”.
You see, Einstein knew that for every example of the world being unfriendly, you can find equally compelling examples, of the world as a friendly place. He said that the dividing line between the two, is our belief system and what that belief system is founded upon.Einstein is quoted as saying, “There are only two ways to live your life. One way, is to live as though nothing is a miracle. The other way, is to live as though everything is a miracle.”
Science has been focused for some time on finding the center of the universe, and when they do, many folks are going to be very disappointed that they are not it!!!!.
2 Kings 6:16 “And Elisha said, Fear not: for they that are with us are more than they that are against us”.
Many folks struggle to see the universe as a friendly place, but unless they re-wire their brains to see the truth of what Elisha said to his fearful servant they will continue missing it…and they will only see the negative things in life. We see what we are looking for!
Is the jar half full or half empty, is it a stop light or a go light, is it good morning God, or good God it’s morning!
These are the kind of questions that change everything…..
One time Tom Sawyer was told by his aunt Polly that he had to white-wash the fence. Tom wasn’t happy since he had planned to go fishing with his buddies that day. But Tom did what his aunt asked and began white-washing the fence. In a little while, along came Huck Finn and some other boys, carrying their fishing poles. They poked fun and Tom and kidded him for having to work when they were going fishing. Tom’s response was based on the half-full glass concept. He said, “You know, it ain’t every day a boy gets a chance to white-wash a fence. You can go fishing any day, but not many boys ever get such a wonderful opportunity as this!” Tom turned an unpleasant chore into something special. And a few moments later he had all the boys helping him with the job, and having fun doing it, while he watched!
The Apostle Paul must have had some Tom Sawyer in him, because he said Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose”.
When the Israelites complained to Moses in the wilderness that they had no water to drink, Moses was put on the spot, because there was too little water….Then they complained there was too much water, when they got to the Red Sea and it blocked their path. But Moses never stopped believing that the glass was half full and not half empty!!! Because he knew that God was holding the glass!
Moses believed that the Universe was a friendly place, and the desert was God’s path to something far better. He believed that the God who had lead them there, was bigger than the desert they were passing through or the red sea they had to cross…
The wilderness which the Israelites were in, was not just a place, it was also a state of mind. It was about their belief system….
Numbers 21:5 And the people said to Moses and to God…“have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in this wilderness?
Two men went to church on Sunday. One of them frowned when the organist missed a note. He glared menacingly at two whispering teenagers. He looked repeatedly at his watch. When the offering plate was passed, he felt that the usher was watching to see how much he gave. He sat tight-lipped during all of the singing. During the sermon, he felt pleased with himself when he caught the preacher making a mistake. As he sneaked out a side door during Communion, he muttered to himself, “That was a terrible service, why do I even bother?”
Meanwhile, the other man delighted at the sight of a father exchanging hugs with his son. He enthusiastically joined in the singing. During the Offering he wondered, “God has given me so much. Am I giving enough?” He reached out and prayed with someone. He listened eagerly to the scriptures to find a word to live by. Part of the sermon helped him with a question he had often thought about. He enthusiastically joined in the singing. As he left the church, he thought to himself, “How good it is to be here together with God’s people in God’s presence.”
Both men had gone to the same church, on the same Sunday, but each came away with a different perspective. It was their mind set that made all the difference.
There are many who feel that the question of major importance is “Are we alone in the universe?” We now know that there are billions of earth type planets in our own galaxy, capable of sustaining life as we know it. That means it’s possible, there millions of planets with beings similar to ourselves, out there in the Milky Way galaxy and even more beyond?
It makes you think….We can’t get along on this planet now, with the people we have in our lives ….what makes anyone think we would like those folks somewhere out there, any better?
Millions of dollars have been invested in establishing listening posts around the globe for radio signals that would indicate intelligent beings who are living out there somewhere. Nothing has been discovered thus far, but many continue to hope.
An even more ambitious effort called BETA has been set up with an 84 foot dish antenna near Boston designed to sweep the heavens on billions of channels for signs of life. Nothing has been discovered, but they are still hopeful. "I have no doubts," says BETA director and Harvard physicist Paul Horowitz. "Intelligent life in the universe is guaranteed!. Intelligent life in our galaxy is so overwhelmingly likely, that I'd give you almost any odds." All he has to do is read the bible…..
Mark 13:27. "And then shall He send His angels, and shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven." Notice it says… "The uttermost part of heaven"
But more importantly to us today, than whether or not aliens will show up and announce that we are not alone, Is the truth that someone from another dimension has already shown up, with a message for all mankind, that we are never alone.
He left the portals of glory, and came from a perfect place in every way, to feel what we feel and experience all the things that we go through, and He lived, died, and rose from the dead, to let us know….
Matthew 28:20 “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world?. Well, the world hasn’t ended, so that can only mean that He’s right here with us!
He has been trying to get our attention since His first words in the book of beginnings, the book of Genesis….
The book of Genesis is not just the book of beginnings, it is the book of our beginnings…. It is our source for existence, and it is about our purpose and it is about our destination….
There are three questions we all want to have answered… Where did I come from?...(that’s about more than who my momma and daddy are) Why am I here?... (that’s not about what I’m doing, but who I am) And where am I going? You can never answer the last question until you answer the second question, and you will never answer the second question until you answer the first one.
Genesis tells us where we came from and it also tells us why we are here. We were made by God and we were put on the earth to know God, to have fellowship with Him and to be with Him forever. And in doing His will, we find meaning and purpose and fulfillment and incredible satisfaction and a sense of self-worth.
One little boy asked his mom, “Mom, I graduated from day care, then I graduated from Kindergarten, then I graduated from Elementary school, So why can’t we ever graduate from church”? His mom said, “Honey, it’s because the bible is our text book, and we will never be able to finish it!”
This brings us to the greatest question of all, “What will I do with God?” If God is not given the proper place of priority in our lives, He is not diminished, but we are! We were made by God, for God, to be with God, and the more we know about him, the happier, and more fulfilled, we will all be and the more we will understand ourselves.
In the sermon on the mount, which many say was Jesus greatest sermon, Jesus said…Matthew 5:3 “Happy and blessed are the humble, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. v4 Happy and blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. v5 Happy and blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. v6 Happy and blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. v7 Happy and blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. v8 Happy and blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. The word “see” is op-tan'-om-ahee, in the original Greek, and it means to “come to know” God.
There is a God that is beyond the God that most folks have come to know.
Suppose someone visited my house while I was not there. There is much they could you learn about my family just from looking around. You might discover that we had 2 boys and one daughter, from the pictures displayed in our home. You would see pictures of my wife, and my grandchildren. You would probably know I was a pastor, from the sermons which are filed on the shelves and in files, and the books which are there as well. And if you looked in my closet, you’d discover I’m average height just by looking at my suits and clothes. You would discover that I enjoy golf, from the 3 bags of clubs and golf shoes in the downstairs. There’s a lot more a careful observer could discover about the Elliott family just by rummaging around through our drawers and bookshelves. In the end, you’d know a lot about me although you wouldn’t know me personally. The clues are everywhere for those who care to look but it would only take you so far in really knowing me.
The cosmos is God’s house. Oh, you didn’t know He looks like Jesus? That’s because Jesus is God! And He has left clues everywhere about what kind of God he is. From the ever changing deserts, to the majestic mountain peaks, you can’t help but be overwhelmed at the mighty power of God to create such magnificence. He is as infinite as the heights of the heavens or the dark recesses of the mighty Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Each snowflake testifies to his uniqueness. The changing colors of the fall, proclaim his creativity.
The galaxies shout out, “He is here.” The wildflowers sing together, “He is here.” The rippling brooks join in, “He is here.” The birds sing it, the lions roar it, all the aquatic life declares it in the oceans—"He is here.” All creation joins to sing his praise. The heavens declare it, the earth repeats it and the wind whispers it—"He is here.” Deep cries out to deep, the mighty sequoia tells it to the eagle who soars overhead, the lamb and the wolf agree on this one thing—"He is here.”
No one can miss the message. God has left his fingerprints all over this world. Truly, “This is my Father’s world,” and every rock, every twig, every river and every mountain bears his signature. He signed his name to everything he made. The earth is marked “Made By God” in letters so big that no one fails to see it…. “He is here”!!!!
He created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. He spoke and the stars filled the sky. He spoke and the birds began to fly. He spoke and the fish began to swim. He spoke and the roses began to bloom. He spoke and the snail began to creep, the coyote began to howl, and the hummingbird started to hum.
Hebrews 11:3 explains creation this way: “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things that are not visible (ex-ni-hi-lo).” This Greek word means that He said it and it was so!
On the basis of Genesis, the book of our beginning, we know these things are true: God is….God creates….God has not changed….He is sovereign. He is Almighty. He is Omnipotent. He is Supreme. He is our friend that sticks closer than a brother…. So the Universe is a friendly place…..We are never alone….and God wants us to know him!
Writing over 450 years ago, Martin Luther asks the question, what does it mean to say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth?” Here is his answer:
“I believe that God has created me and all that exists. I believe that he has given me and that He is preserving, my body and soul, my eyes and ears, and all my members, my reason and all the power of my soul, together with food and raiment, home and family, and all my property, and that he daily provides abundantly for all the needs of my life, protects me from all danger, and guards and keeps me from all evil; and that he does this purely out of a fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all of these things and more, I am in duty bound to thank, praise, serve, and obey him. This is most certainly true”.
Everything beautiful begins with God. Life begins with God. Truth begins with God. Understanding begins with God. Wisdom begins with God. That’s why Genesis 1:1 is the first verse of the Bible. Skip this and nothing else in the Bible will make sense. Skip this and you’ll miss the central fact of the universe. Skip this and even though you graduated from Harvard or Yale, you’ll spend your days nibbling around the edges of truth and never hitting the bullseye. You’ll know the details of daily life, but you’ll never understand where you came from, why you are here, and where you are going when you die.
Someone asked the question, “Why is it that when you talk to God, it’s called praying? But whenever you say that God talks to you, they call it paranoid schizophrenia”.
On Christmas Eve, 1968, the three astronauts of Apollo 8 circled the dark side of the moon and headed for home. As their tiny capsule floated through space, they saw the glistening green, blue and white hues of earth slowly fill their window. In that moment, they did not quote Einstein or Darwin or Shakespeare. Only one thing could capture the magnificence of the moment. Billions of people around the world heard the voice from outer space begin to read: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The astronauts read Genesis 1:1 to a worldwide audience. And in that moment any other words would have fallen short.
In the beginning was God, and God is love, so IN THE BEGINNING WAS LOVE! We are here because God wanted us here, in order to love us… Before anything there was God’s love, and His love became our purpose.When mankind rejected that love, then love showed up as a Savior who was willing to die, to bring us back.The God who created us, is madly, hopelessly in love with us. Someone has said that the beasts of the field say: “Love made me.” The birds of the air say: “Love made me.” The creatures that swim in the rivers and the sea say: “Love made me.”
And when we turn to Him and receive that love and seek to know the lover of our souls, then we too can say from our deepest places, “Love is what made me”
It’s a very short distance from Genesis 1:1 to John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.
It is that leap of love, that answers our deepest questions.
One of the most important things in human living is to find out what Jesus believed, to discover his values and ideals, and to strive to achieve his life purpose. If He is God, let’s follow Him, study His words, and submit ourselves to His truth. Of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value is to know the life of Jesus and how he lived it, then allow it to be reflected in and through us.
Does God care about you, is He involved in your daily circumstances, does He have a plan for you, has He prepared the future with you in mind?
John 13:1 simply says…. “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end”. He loved you then, he loves you now, he will love you till the end……
The gospel means “Good News” and our mission is to live the good news story of Jesus; to do the things He did and to do the things He told us to do, and to teach others to do the same, and to go forth rejoicing as we work the works of Christ together! And to know because of Him, the universe is a friendly place!!!!
Our Declaration…..“I declare the Perfect Will of God over my life today.! I declare today, that as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. My desires and passions are coming into alignment with His desires and passions for me. I know that without faith it's impossible to please God, so today I ask you Lord to strengthen my faith, and I affirm that I choose to trust in the Lord with all my heart and I choose to walk by faith and not by sight. I declare an open heaven over my life, in Jesus' Name! Today I declare that I believe in the goodness of the Lord within every detail of my life, and my family's life. I walk according to the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ and I choose to speak words of life and walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which I've been called. I seek the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.
I ask you Lord for your complete protection over my family today against accident, incident, injury, disease and illness, sexual, emotional, spiritual, physical and financial damage. Thank you for a hedge of protection around myself and my family from the snares of the evil one in Jesus' Mighty Name. Circumstances are aligning themselves in my favor, because I walk in the Spirit of Favor … I am excited to meet those who are appointed by God to use their resources and influence to help me achieve my dreams. Thank You Lord, that people will go out of their way to assist me. I am physically, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually equipped to do what I am here on earth to accomplish. The blood of Jesus cleanses me and heals me as I encourage myself in the Lord. I take on an attitude of gratitude, I take on courage, and God's strength is being made manifest and evident in my life today.
I have available to me, wisdom and abilities that I will use to add value to the lives of others, because I know that in helping others reach their dreams I will be aided to reach my own. I will show compassion to those in need. I will give strength to the weak and inspiration to the weary. I will be faithful in little things, as I manage well the resources God has entrusted me with, so I can rule over much and give whenever and wherever I see a need. The blessing of the Lord enriches my life and blesses me exceeding, abundant, above all that I could think or imagine. I am appointed for victories and not defeat, supernatural turnarounds and miraculous breakthroughs are ahead, in the midst of great impossibilities. I am an overcomer, and though I may experience setbacks, they will pave the way for comebacks. I am not a victim, for I believe that God will turn things full circle so they will become successes. I now release the champion that is inside of me. I release the winner that has taken up residence in me, so I may reach my destiny. Today, I choose to succeed, for I am more than conqueror through Christ.