My message today asks the question….Should We Follow OurHeart
Listen, I take my garbage out to the street every Friday morning. It is picked up on Friday afternoon. It sits on the sidewalk all morning, completely unguarded and I don’t worry at all about it. Why? Because it is worthless.
But it’s not so with your heart. Your heart is the essence of who you are. It is your authentic self—the core of your being. It is where all your dreams, your desires, and your passions live. It is that part of you that connects with God and other people.
Proverbs 23:7 “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his (Saul”s) appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees. For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
A popular mantra today is “Follow your heart”…. When someone is trying to determine if a relationship is good or not, or whether they should take a job, or change careers, the most common advice seems to be, “follow your heart.”
That would assume that the most trustworthy guide for human behavior and decision making is an inner compass called the heart. It’s another way of saying that we should all follow what we’re the most passionate about….
When it comes to matters of the heart, We should lead our heart and not let our heart lead us… People have married, based on that follow your heart perspective…they have taken jobs which they were the most passionate about…and they have invested all their time and finances, only to have it all fall apart. The heart can be faulty and the emotions that rise from passion can be fickled…. If Romeo and Juliet had understood that, they would still be alive!
I submit that we should follow our heart but be sure to take our brain with us…..How can so many people who have followed their hearts, be so wrong….I was looking at some song titles….Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco…(that doesn’t sound good) Neil Young is searching for a heart of gold…(which means he’s probably still searching) Neil Diamond wants everyone to turn on their heart light.. (which means he’s groping in the dark) Bonnie Tyler is having a total eclipse of the heart…(self explanatory) There are over 4000 different religious systems, with followers who have given their hearts in adhering to these systems. If you were to ask them, They ALL believe their hearts are right.
A man had heart surgery, and he awakened from the surgery to find himself in the care of nuns at a Hospital. A nun asked him if he had health insurance. He told her he had no health insurance.She asked if he had money in the bank. He told her he had no money. She asked him if he had a relative who could help. He said, "I only have an impoverished sister, who is a nun." The nun said, “Sir, nuns are not impoverished, they are married to God." The patient told her, "then in that case, you can send the bill to my Brother-in-law."
This brings us to the “HEART” of the matter… The problem in the world today is not a lack of sincerity or a lack of heart…. The problem is actually a lack of truth. The heart is very unpredictable unless it is guided by truth, wisdom and understanding .
When my lawn mower is needing to be tuned up it sounds like….Brrrrump Bump Bump Bump. Brrrump. Brrump puhp puhp. SoI get another mower and before long, it goes Brrrrump Bump Bump Bump. Brrrump. Brrump pluuuhmp pluuuhmp. I just don’t get along well with internal combustion engines.
So there's a guy in town who goes around and picks up the mowers that folks are throwing away. He understands internal combustion engines. And with just a screwdriver, some cleaning cloths and fresh gas, he can usually take those thrown-away lawnmowers and have them running great in just a few minutes. And you can hear the pitch of those motors changing when he works on them. Eventually, he hears the sound he wants to hear and the mower is running fine.
When a heart gets way out of tune, you can hear it across the room. A heart out of tune has a distinctive sound, and you can get it in tune if we adjust it so that it stops making that sound so much. This is the sound of a heart out of tune: "me me me meme me." "I, I, I, I.." "Mine, Mine, Mine." "My way, my way, my way."
You see, our heart is designed to hear three things: How we feel. How others feel. How God feels. When my heart is out of tune, I have no trouble hearing how I feel. In fact, that's all I hear, then it gets louder, and louder, until everyone knows exactly how I feel about every little thing. I will always feel my pain, I will feel it deeply, and I will feel it all the time. But I won't be listening to God, or to how others feel. Because my heart is way out of tune. "But what about me? Don't they care about me? Don't they know who I am?" "Don't you care how I feel?"
In 1937 architect Frank Lloyd Wright built a house for the wealthy industrialist Hibbard Johnson. One rainy evening Johnson was entertaining distinguished guests for dinner when the roof began to leak. The water seeped through directly above Johnson himself, dripping steadily onto his bald head as he sat at the table. Furious, he called Wright in Phoenix, Arizona. “Frank,” he said, “you built this beautiful house for me and we enjoy it very much. But I have told you the roof leaks, and right now I am at dinner with some friends and distinguished guests and it is leaking right on top of my head.” Wright’s reply was heard by everyone there. “Well, Hibbard, have you thought about moving your chair?” How many times do we sit under the drip, complaining, instead of moving our chair!!!!!
If you’re flying on an airplane, during the preflight instructions they will tell you about the oxygen masks, and they say, place the oxygen mask on your own face, then place the mask on your child. I can't help others if I don't take care of myself. The heart is not designed to just take care of itself; it is designed to care for others, as we hear the voice of God.
Matthew 7:3 "Why do you notice the speck in your brother's eye and not the beam in your own eye? First remove the beam from your own eye; then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
Two men were walking down a crowded sidewalk. Suddenly, one of the men commented, "Listen to the lovely sound of that cricket!" But his friend could not hear the sound. He asked the man how he could hear the chirping of a cricket amidst the sounds of traffic and people. The first man, who was a trained zoologist, said that he had trained himself to hear the sounds of nature. He then took a hand full of change and threw it on the side walk and a dozen people turned around and looked. "We hear what we listen for."
Proverbs 4:23 says, "Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs all the issues of life.”
Discernment, is a very important Guard for the heart, it is the ability to determine and choose the good from the best, the best from the bad, and the right from the wrong. One of the characteristics of maturity is to be a discerning person. It is a learned ability that involves self-discipline.
Infants lack discernment. The world revolves around you and your world is about instant gratification. And toddlers have only one drive in life in relation to everything they see: put it in their mouth! A small child crawling on the kitchen floor will find a Cheerio under the chair - and into the mouth it goes. He finds a potato-chip fragment - and into the mouth it goes. But he doesn't care if the thing is edible or not. If he finds a broken piece of purple crayon - into the mouth it goes. If he finds a dead bug - into the mouth it goes. Little children lack the important ability to be discerning.
When it comes to matters of the heart, many adults don't discriminate between what's good for them, and what's bad for them. They will let just about anything pollute and compromise their spiritual life. They spend more time guarding and protecting their property than their soul. They spend more time watching their diet than nurturing their spirit. They spend more time scrutinizing their financial assets than checking their thought-life. They fail to watch their heart; and they suffer needlessly as a result.
We all face four thieves, the world, the flesh, the devil and our own rotten thinking, and these four stalk us always seeking ways to steal the good treasures of the heart and to replace them with what is not the best thing or the best outcome for us.
A minister, a Boy Scout, and a computer expert were the only passengers on a plane. The pilot came back to the cabin and said that the plane was going down but there were only three parachutes and four people. The pilot added, "I should have one of the parachutes because I *…..have a wife and three small children." So he took one and jumped. The computer whiz said, "I should have one of the parachutes because I am the smartest man in the world and everyone needs me." So he took *….one and jumped. The minister turned to the Boy Scout and with a sad smile said, You are young and I have lived a rich life, so you take the remaining parachute, an I’ll go down with the plane." The Boy Scout said, "Relax, Reverend, the smartest man in the world just jumped out with my backpack!" (be sure of what you’re taking a leap for)
We can get our heart out of tune, when we focus on two or three rotten apples and forget about the 50 good ones in the barrel. We can allow our hearts to be vexed by offences, hurts, injustices and unkindness… We can focus on these things and lose sight of all the wonderful and amazing blessings of God and good people that are all around us in our lives.
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.
Two year olds love to say “No” and “I can do it”….and while believers possess a new nature, and the capacity to know God, and can discern spiritual things, and they have received the enlightening and empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit…. they still possess the very deceptive tendency to put God on a shelf and want to do it themselves.
But God speaks to us through Isaiah 55:8-11 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. v9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, Soare My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts”. All the wisdom we need comes in two parts—the knowledge of God and knowledge of ourselves. That means you’ve got to know God and you’ve got to know your own heart.
In scripture, the heart is about what is at the center of a person…. Our spiritual condition, our mind and thought life, our will, our conscience, our moral character, the seat of our desires and passions, and the source of our sense of courage and self-sacrifice.
For example, when God sent the plagues against Egypt, it was because Pharaoh's heart was hardened; meaning his "will" was set against God. When King David's son, Absalom wanted to turn the allegiance of the people from David to himself, the Bible says that he "stole the hearts of the men of Israel", meaning their commitment and loyalty. God sent the flood on mankind, the Bible tells us, because He "saw that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually".. meaning their moral character. When David numbered his soldiers in disobedience to God, the Bible tells us that his "heart condemned him"; meaning his conscience was against him. King Rehoboam was said to be an evil king, "because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD", meaning his inner priorities and values.
Without even realizing it, serving the Lord can become a religious habit without a heart. The Pharisees had religion but no heart…. In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus spoke strongly against the mere external, performance-oriented hypocrisy of the religious Pharisees. And with Divine clarity, he built a bridge between the religious laws and the heart of the gospels. In Matthew 5:17-48, six times in his sermon, He put the passion back into serving God.
Verse 21 he said “You have heard … but I say to you …”
Verse 27 “You have heard … but I say to you …”
Verse 31 “It was said … but I say to you …”
Verse 33 “You have heard … but I say to you …”
Verse 38 “You have heard … but I say to you …”
Verse 43 “You have heard … but I say to you …” King David in his early life was so passionate about serving the Lord, but as he got older, some of his passion for God began to diminish. His heart got out of tune and pride began to rise up. You might say that he got a heart blockage.
Then he fell horribly into prideful sin, he became a broken man before God. His brokenness is recorded for us in Psalm 51: 17. There, we find these words, "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart - these, O God, You will not despise". David's great prayer request was, Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me". David knew he needed a tune up, but he kept putting it off until he could not ignore it any longer!
The heart needs guarding because we do not naturally think and look at life like God does. We are ignorant of His mind and His ways. We desperately need the wisdom and direction of the Lord to know His ways and to know our own heart and its tendency to wander.
1 Corinthians 6:19 “What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? v20 For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's”.
1 Corinthians 7:23 “You are bought with a price, do not become the servants of men”.
The heart needs guarding because we really don’t want to be THAT HOLY, so like sheep, we easily stray from the shepherd, in our hearts. We want to trust God with getting us into heaven, but we would prefer to direct our own affairs down here on earth partly because we are convinced that God wants to spoil all of our fun. To completely follow His directions means we may be called on to give up something that we think we must have in order to be happy or secure.
The heart needs guarding because we can’t trust it. It is selfish, self-centered, and self-protective. In order to experience God’s way we must first forsake our self-trust, then, in the place of self-trust, we need to learn to rely completely on the Lord regardless of how things appear, rather than lean on our own understanding.
The heart needs guarding because the heart is the wellspring of life. It is the fountain that attitudes, values, beliefs, aspirations, and pursuits flow out of. This is the very reason we can easily be deceived, since the carnal and Divine both struggle to control these issues…. Psalm 42:1 “As the hart (deer) pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul (center, life, heart) after You, O God”.
David is describing the setting, establishing and preparing of the heart for all that it will encounter each day, by fixing it upon the Lord. When God is not central to our life, His place will get pushed aside by other cares, desires, and issues. We become like ships without a rudder that are subject to the prevailing currents around us and we are pulled away from His purposes, principles, and promises.
Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15. “And let the peace of God rule (be the umpire) in your hearts, to the which also you are called, and be thankful.”
When it comes to following our heart, we might be in God’s will, but we may need to get some questions answered first. The umpire of peace is telling you to do more investigating of the situation to clear up those unresolved questions and issues. You won’t have peace, about proceeding until you do.
I recall staying at a minister’s home on my way to a conference that was the next day. I was tired and had no trouble going right off to sleep. At 2:00 in the morning a train came through, blasting it’s horn, and shook be right out of bed. The entire house was shaking with the force of it. I found out the next morning that the tracks were 10 feet from the back of the house. When I mentioned it at breakfast, no one else in the family heard it. They had gotten so used to it, that they no longer heard it! In the same way we can become deaf to the voice of God.
When we have no peace, we may be moving in God’s will, the timing is not right. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven…He has made everything appropriate in its time.” A lack of peace may mean the umpire is saying you need to wait for further instructions.
When we have no peace, it might be that our heart is not at peace because it isn’t God’s will and the Holy Spirit umpire is telling you no! He is giving a warning that you are heading down the wrong path and if you listen you will be spared a lot of pain.
Psalm 19:7-9 “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether”.
If you put God first you will never be last…you see, God is described in scripture as having two thrones…. One in the highest heavens and one in the heart of the lowly believer. If we make our heart his throne, we shall never lack His presence and His glory….
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”.
We sing, "Come into my heart, Lord Jesus," but He does not come as some ambiguous spirit. He comes to enthrone Himself in our throne room, and rule in our hearts by His Spirit. Jesus said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you". He that continually guards and renews his heart towards God, dwells continually in God’s throne room. When the heart is kept tuned, the veil is parted and we enter His presence continually.
When God is first in the heart, everything else that we need in life, that is really important and part of our destiny, will be provided….
I must decrease that Christ might increase. It is no longer I but Christ in me, the hope of glory. When our perspective changes, our heart will change. To see our hearts as the place where He chooses to set up his throne, is to once again experience the wonder, amazement, and overwhelming astonishment at His presence. If we have lost touch with the throne room of God, may our hearts be tuned once again, and may we never treat lightly these sacred matters and the special position of a clean heart before God.
John 4:35 “You may say, “Four months more and then the harvest” I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! Right now, they are ripe and ready for harvest.”
Jesus is recognizing men’s abilities to look at certain signs and seasons and then trying to predict what actions need to be taken. But He knew that our problem is that often we become myopic. The dictionary defines myopic as, nearsighted or shortsighted. I call this the vortex syndrome.
It’s something we can all fall into very easily. We become so preoccupied with a problem we’re struggling with, or our job, or family life, that these things produce a gravitational pull that pulls us inward so much that we are oblivious to more eternally significant things….
In the universe there are geometrically defined regions in space whose gravitational pull is so strong that even light cannot escape the inward pull. We call these area’s “Black holes.”
Sometimes in the life of a Christian, when the gravitational pull becomes inward, the inward force overwhelms the outward reach and the gospel of the kingdom suffers loss. If we are not constantly intentional in resisting that normal gravitational pull inward, we will be so locked into celebrating the victories of the past, and juggling the responsibilities of the present that we fail to set up the harvest cycle of the future. That future begins with all the opportunities that surround us now in the present.
A shoe company decided to expand their market into a large population in an area of South America. They sent a salesman to test the potential market. The man was there two weeks when he wrote the home office and said, “I’m coming home immediately this is a totally lost cause. No one in the entire area wears shoes! I will not waste my time anotherday!” The company dispatched another salesman who was more experienced to get a second opinion… When the second salesman got there, he discovered the same thing the first salesman had discovered. In only two days, they received an urgent letter and expecting the bad news they had received before, they opened it quickly and read this….“Please send me every shoe you can possibly ship, immediately! This place is a gold mine, and there are opportunities everywhere I go! No one here wears shoes!”
The disciples were judging the Samaritans based on Jewish tradition, which said that Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans…. (a little background here)…. Jesus’ disciples didn’t want to even be in Samaria. Had the decision been left up to them, they would have avoided the area completely. Anyone who’s been in church for any amount of time, knows the story of the woman at the Samaritan well. They may even be aware that the disciples were shocked when they found Jesus talking to this woman of ill repute.
So, if we get into the history of this national animosity… we find No good Jew wanted to go through Samaria. The Jews and Samaritans hated one another. (A lot like politics) The Samaritans were half-breed Jews, forced to intermarry with gentiles when Assyria captured the Northern Ten Tribes. During that time they added to the Law of Moses, and they were constantly harassing those in Judea. During the time of the Maccabees, they snuck in and desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem, so there was really bad feelings all the way around for they had perverted the most holy item to every Jew. Because of that hate it was unsafe for a Jew to try to travel in the area.
Jesus made a bee-line to the town of Sychar in Samaria because He sensed that there was something eternal that far outweighed the vortex syndrome that would love to have pulled him in. But that national and religious history of prejudice and offence, didn’t pull Jesus in and it didn’t stop Him from dealing with the greater issues of the heart and soul.
John 4:34–35 Jesus said, “This is what keeps me going….doing the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. You look around you right now, and you suppose that in about four months it will be time for harvest. Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. The Samaritan fields are ripe now. It is harvest time!’”
Many folks say, well, I’ll just live it in front of them and they’ll see my life and they’ll turn to Christ…..How’s that working so far for you? The lost are still lost…jails are full and church seats are empty…What Jesus is telling us is that we must be intentional about bringing them to Christ.
Some boys were in front of the school skate boarding, when we were setting up last week on Saturday. Winnie was talking to them, and they asked if she was a teacher. She told them that we were setting up to have church on Sunday and asked them if they would like to come. They’re answer confirmed what I’m saying here…. They said they had never ever been to a church! (that went right through me)
Statistics have shown over and over that around 84% of the population doesn’t go to church at all! A big percentage of the population will say they are Christians but don’t practice a Christian life style. If you apply those percentages to Key West, and Stock Island, there is a population of about 34,000 people which can go as high as 40,000 with the tourists, which means that thousands of folks do not go to church here, and most of those have never come to Christ to receive salvation.
Like the difference in the two shoe salesmen, one assumed that no one was interested in shoes because no one wore them. The other salesman assumed that every one needed shoes because no one wore them….
Is it possible that we assume folks are not interested in coming to Christ, simply because they haven’t. Or that they aren’t interested because they haven’t been interested before….
I just read a story of a Muslim woman who was in the morgue for 3 days, when she says Jesus came to her and asked her to take His hand, and when she did, she sat up in the morgue, went home and attended a Christian church. Tens of thousands of Muslims are turning to Christ every week. When we get intentional, God will find a way!
That one woman at the well, left and told her community about Christ and led her village to Christ. In John 4:39 “Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman's witness: "He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out!" 40 They asked him to stay on, and Jesus stayed two days. 41 Many people entrusted their lives to him when they heard what he had to say. 42 They said to the woman, "We're no longer taking your word for it. We've heard it ourselves and know it for sure. He is Savior of the world!"
A man named Joshua was depressed and had doing pot every day for 6 months. He heard that his favorite aunt had cancer and she asked him to be praying for him. Well Joshua hadn’t prayed in a long time, but he prayed anyway, and when he did God spoke to him and told him to go to church on Sunday. Josh never went to church. But his life was in such a mess that he decided to go anyway. On his way, God spoke to him and said…”Joshua, my love is all around you.” He felt what seemed like electricity go all through him and a white dove landed on the hood of his car. At church, the pastor asked for people to come for prayer at the end of his sermon, so Josh went down. A man came and prayed for him and he was going to leave, when God spoke again and said “don’t be afraid… I’m cleansing you of your sins… I’m taking away all of those things of the past.” He began to weep uncontrollably, as that same electricity began to flow through his body. And again the Lord spoke to him and said “Joshua, now you know I am real…you’ve heard about me since you were a kid…I am Jesus…I am the living God”… Joshua says that his life has never been the same since. All he needed was a chance….
It’s like the boy who came home soaking wet.
His dad said "Mercy Me Frank!" You look soaked to the bone!
"Yes, papa, I fell into the canal." His dad shouted…."Frank, those are the new school clothes we just bought for you?" Frank said.. "Yes, papa, I didn't have a chance to take them off." (Many folks just need a chance)
All over our Island community, there are folks like the woman at the well, who have an appointment with Jesus. The wells may be different, they may be the restaurant, the job you work at, the Grocery store, or the doctor’s office….but Jesus wants everyone to have a chance….
As I thought about the title of this message, I thought of the scripture, 2 Corinthians 6:2 “For He says, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured (brought help and relief) to you. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”.)
I submit that it is vital for each of us to keep our salvation up to date. If we understand that salvation means more than a sinner’s prayer and that It means health, wholeness, freedom and deliverance, then we also understand that those things need to be maintained. You can get into heaven and fail to enjoy the full salvation package you have received….
You can pull up to the gas station and fill up with gas, but it won’t be long until you need to fill up again. We can be saved, and yet neglect to stir up, apply and develop the scope and impact of our salvation.
When the Word of God tells us in Philippians 2:12 “Work out (Make full application of) your own salvation with fear and trembling”. It is admonishing us to not neglect the full benefits we have received in our salvation package. Don’t run on empty when you have received a full salvation!!!!
An 90-year-old Chinese man showed up at the Chinese railroad station. It was his intention to take a railroad trip, and he knew the price of his ticket should be somewhere around 12.5 Yuan, which would be $2 in U.S currency. Expecting to get quite a bit of change back for expenses, the old man handed the cashier a 500-yuan bill for the 12.5 Yuan ticket. Taking a look at the currency, the ticket master quickly handed it back and said, "I can't accept this." The old man was shocked. And he demanded to know why. Was it because the cashier didn't have enough change for such a large bill? No, So what was the problem? The cashier tried to explain, "I can't accept this bill because it was printed in 1943. she said, seventy years ago the country's founders, printed the currency. But the old currency was discontinued. She told him that his money, was no longer money. The bill which once was valuable was almost worthless today. It was only worth the history attached to it for a collector but it wouldn’t get him where he wanted to go”. Is your ticket current and is it going to get you where you are hoping to go?
2 Timothy 1:6 “Wherefore I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the laying on of hands. v7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”…..Satan sends fear to undermine your power, your love and your sound mind….
Freedom belongs to those who continue to maintain their freedom…. the same is true with your deliverance and your wholeness….
Keep stirring it up, with confessions which are aligned with God’s word, with prayers, conversation and meditation that is founded upon and embedded with the word of God. Our minds must be continually renewed and filled with God’s thoughts and God’s intentions!
Ephesians 4:23 “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; v24 And put on the new man, which is created to be in God’s image in righteousness and true holiness”.
We know that at any point and time our flesh wants to take control of our spirit and our mind, but God has made us to be ruled by our Spirit. It is within our Spirit that the image of God flows forth, to shape our mind and rule over the soulish man. The carnal or fleshly mind is the enemy of God and must be dominated and put under the Spirit of Christ within us.
When the great flood came and God told Noah to build the ark, those who did not enter perished, but those who came inside, had to remain inside in order to be rescued. No one decided to go for a stroll outside the ark, and just experience the world one more time….or the ark would have lifted above the flood without them…. Were there problems inside the ark…I’m sure there were….dideveryone get along perfectly….Hey, they were human!!! Did they love being shut up in there for 40 days and 40 nights with smelly, noisy, wild animals…. probably not!...But did they even think of jumping ship….I don’t think so!!!!
Revelation 17:14 “They that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful”.
This is the day to stir up the gift of God that is in us….Now is the time to renew our calling….Now more than ever before is the time for faithfulness Yesterday is gone….Tomorrow hasn’t come yet….Today is the best time of our lives to make the greatest difference!
We are living in the now, but we are touching eternity….Howeveryou choose to interpret 2 Peter 3:8, let me share with you, what the Holy Spirit spoke within me as I was preparing these thoughts…..it says… ”But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”. I read that and I think that what we’ve been working on for a day, God has been working on for a 1000 years!
Also, It dawned on me, that on any given day, or our “now time”… there are things we will do or perhaps fail to do, that will have an effect and an influence on the next 1000 years. And there are things that folks did or did not do that will effect and influence us, here, a 1000 years later.
From right where you live, there is the potential to influence generations and change the world. Who could have known that the first wheel that was invented would revolutionize the rest of history…. Or the first person who cooked their meat over fire. It was almost 700 years ago that Guttenberg ran the first pages through his printing press and it sent shock waves around the world….Or what about the compass which was invented by the Chinese and ignited the age of discovery….And we recognize the use of paper money by the Chinese 2000 years ago which revolutionized global economics and ushered in international exchange….And I would have to mention the invention of steel 4000 years ago and mass produced in the 1840’s fueling the Industrial Revolution…But let’s not stop there, 5,500 years ago, the domestication of the horse is tied to human development and a new era of transportation… Magnifying lenses allowed mankind a glimpse at everything from distant stars and galaxies to the minute workings of living cells and bacteria….. The telegraph in the 18th century which opened the communications breakthrough….antibiotics, and the steam engine….on and on we could go…but these could never have been seen at the time for the huge effect on all of civilization which they became!
There are folks who are waiting in the future, should the Lord tarry, who will see what we do now as the new normal… and the way things are done in the future….
All of history is giving us a mandate to make our “Now” count!
How much more so when it comes to the eternal souls of men and women….
In Isaiah 42:8 God introduced himself as “I AM”… He didn’t say “I was”…because then He would have to be something other than He is right now! He didn’t say “I will be”… for then He would be something then, that we would have to wait for but that He isn’t right now!…. Oh No… He says “I am, in the past; I am, in the present; I am, in the future – I am the eternal now! Now is always the right time with me”!!!
Our past, our present and our future are all within the bounds of God’s now…. The blind man was healed now….the lepers were healed now….the dead were raised now…. The lame, the deaf, the dumb and the poor were all located in the bounds of His now!
Don’t live with I’ll do it later any longer….Hear it again….NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION! Now is He as fully God, and as fully powerful, and as fully glorious as He will ever be at any other time! (someone is getting this)
James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes forth from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness(inconsistency), neither any shadow (the slightest indication) of turning”.
Failure is met with success in God’s now…sickness is met with wholeness…confusion is met with clarity…lost is met with found… the past, present, and future are all met with redemption in God’s now!!!! All of us are imprisoned in time, but not God. We are incarcerated behind the bars of time, and we cannot escape it. But our God sits above it and is not subject to it, for He created it, and calls it to serve His purposes!
I remember as a teenager, I went hunting alone in a 1200 acre forest….I got terribly lost and walked for hours, when I realized, God isn’t lost, just me!! I prayed that He who sits in the heavens and yet was right where I was, in that now situation of lostness, knew the way out from the very point I was at, and would lead me to a highway, where I could get home. It was minutes later that I came to a main highway and was able to find my way home…
There is no place we can possibly go that He can’t help us find our way back… He is always there in all the “Now’s” of every place in our lives!
Others may see what we did wrong, when we blew it, when we really messed up this time… but God sees forever, and He sees all the twists and turns in all of our now’s that are still ahead!
All my moments can be God moments. He is timeless and yet He’s God of every moment. I have good moments and bad moments and in between moments. I have times I will remember forever and times I would rather forget as soon as they happen….But I can’t judge him, or His faithfulness by any moment in my life….but I must command my moments to align with His “I AM”!
Someone said that “Our time is like identical suitcases—they are all the same size, but some people are able to pack more into them than others”.
I think of those millions of microscopic organisms that can live in a single drop of stagnant water. In our biology class we peeked into their world with a microscope.. Have you ever imagined that as those tiny creatures were just swimming around by the thousands and thousands in that little drop of water… that some of them that are a little bigger than the others begin strutting around, feeling that they are smarter than the others, and then one of them is a philosopher, and he says: "Oh, all of you think you’re really something, but listen to me….there is a creature that could take this drop of water and just scatter it to the wind. Did you know that? Did you know there is a creature that could take ten thousand of our worlds, these drops of water, and just smash them with one hand? Did you know that?" "Why, that’s impossible all the tiny organisms say! That’s unimaginable! I don’t see any creature like that down here in this little world of our drop of water. I don’t see anyone like that – that can do that. That’s crazy! That’s idiotic! That’s inane! That’s stupid! And so are you for saying it!"
And they just say all kinds of things, you know. I can imagine one of them saying, "Did you know, if we were to take an army of ten million amoebas on this side and join with ten million protozoa on that side, why, we could just shake the whole earth?" And the philosopher would say, "Did you know there’s somebody outside of our drop of water, that could just crush all those armies in the blink of your 8 eyes!
I recall when David and Vicki called us to pray for Pepper, because he was going through a rebellious period… we drove to Sarasota (7 hours each way) so we could just do some spiritual warfare. Well we got there and got refreshed, and when everyone had settled down, I slipped into his bedroom to hear what the Spirit was saying…. I got up in the middle of his bed and prepared to pray the heavens down, and all I could do is laugh…I laughed and I laughed…I went out and got Winnie, David and Vicki, and we all got to laughing…. God said “Stop making mountains out of molehills…stop making the devil more powerful that he is….stop praying the problem… Just laugh at his puny efforts…laugh with me, because he actually thinks he can win…laugh, because greater is He that is in you than someloser running around in red long Johns!
My God is in the “NOW” …Why pray like He is in some future place, or past place. He said “I AM”!!!! I am always here operating in your now!!! When God waits, He’s right on time…When God delays, He’s right on time….
To a snail a mile is a long way, to Batman and Robin in a paper plane it is shorter, to Mighty Mouse it’s shorter than that, and to a super sonic jet it is shorter still, to a beam of light, it is instant. Sometimes it may seem like it’s taking a long time, but to God it happened yesterday….
To everything there is a purpose…Every leaf that falls, every tiny grain of sand, every drop of rain and every snow flake has a purpose designed by a loving Father. And if that is so of such inconsequential things like that….of how much more value are you and of what greater purpose has the Father designed for your life….
Matthew 6:30 “So then, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, how much more shall he clothe you, O you of little faith? v31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, how shall we be clothed? v32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. v33 But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”.
1Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known”. There was an article in the USA Today newspaper dated June 2006. The cover story was about two young ladies who had been involved in an automobile accident where one was pronounced dead and the other survived. They were both so disfigured that they were unrecognizable. It said that after five weeks they realized that the one who was pronounce dead was really the one who had survived and the one who they thought had survived was really the one who had died. And just as the articlehad your full attention, wanting to find out what happen and what was the response of the family members, at the bottom of this cover page story read, “For the rest of the story” see page 3. But page 3was missing, so any hopes of getting an understanding of “The Rest of the Story”, was impossible. ( I won’t do that to you this morning)
Paul Harvey is well known for giving you a story and holding back the juicy parts. …. He would begin to tell a story about someone that we usually knew nothing about. Just when we thought we understood what it was all about, we suddenly realized that there was more to the story. And you would have to wait through a lengthy commercial before you could find out. Then he would fill in the details which was the real meat of the story. …..For instance, He tells of a headache medicine which John Pemberton invented in 1886, which had caffeine as a stimulant and cocaine as a pain reliever. It became very popular but the rest of the story is that the new drink was named “Coke-a-Cola”. The Cocaine was later removed, to the disappointment of many customers, who had become hooked on the cocaine. But it remained a popular drink anyway. Pemberton sold his formula for $2,500 and just one of the original bottles sold for $5,000 dollars. Recently just the Chilean franchise sold for $79 million dollars. And it started with a head ache treatment….
Winnie and I enjoy the TV program that is named “Mysteries at the Museum”. They always share some popular items which are displayed at various museums and then the commentator will say, “BUT, there is a seemingly unimportant piece of wood, or a chunk of stone, or a piece of cloth that has an important part of history attached to it….and we get the rest of the story….For instance there is a can of “Play Dough” and as host Don Wildman takes us back to the beginnings, we find that this popular children’s item, was originally invented as a wall paper cleaner, until it was discovered that it had many other uses. And the “Slinky” *….which was originally created as a shock absorber for the military, but then It was scaled down and transformed into a children’s toy.
Martin Luther King Junior didn’t live to see the rest of the story, but he gave us an example of how to allow God to direct your steps and do what it takes to achieve your goals, to make life better for millions of people, even if you never see the results yourself. In Washington DC, there are many monuments honoring this great civil rights leader and on one of the monuments his words are inscribed.
It says “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, that is temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil which may temporarily seem to triumph.” On the cross our Lord Jesus seemed to be temporarily defeated, but in this temporary defeat he triumphed over all evil, and it is with that over- coming power and authority that Jesus spoke and continues to speak into you and to me still today.
Like many other ministers, I have been called upon to do a funeral service and share the final words over folks who have come to the end of their earthly journey. They come to that place, some of them healthy, some sick, some young, some old, and everything in between. But they all will come and keep coming. The minister usually gives some history of the person, their contributions to society, names the surviving family members, and then delivers a message for the occasion.
But the most important thing every minister is called upon to do is to share the rest of the story. Because when the story that begins when this “life on earth” part of the journey is finished, the biggest, longest, and most important part of every one’s story is just beginning.
This is what the Apostle Paul was doing, when he shared much of his writings with us. I am choosing one particular portion, in… 1Corinthians 15:51 “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, v52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. v53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. v54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. v55 O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory”?
Benjamin Franklin said that nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. But that is not the whole truth. A clever man with a good lawyer can find a way around most if not all of his taxes, but no one escapes death. George Bernard Shaw remarked, “The percentages on death have not changed. The percentages are, that one out of every one person dies." Even Dorian Grey, who’s portrait aged so that he wouldn’t, came to that final end to his life…But we must add that the percentages are also that one out of every one person, that physically dies, will live forever, somewhere. And that’s where the rest of our story really begins!
Worldwide, there are approximately 4.7 million deaths everymonth, 155,000 every day, 6,500 every hour, 107 every minute, and 1.8 every second. The Greek playwright Sophocles said it this way: “Of all the great wonders of earth, none is greater than man. And yet for death he finds no cure.”
However, there is one who came who did find the cure to death and He died and met death eyeball to eyeball. He trampled it under His feet, pulled out it’s stinger, and set it’s boundaries then assigned death to hell, where it cannot avoid the sentence that He has established upon it. Revelation 20:12 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the (unrighteous) dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. v13 and the sea gave up the (unrighteous) dead which were in it and death and hell delivered up the (unrighteous) dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works”.
This is important, because believers in Christ, will not be present at what this scripture is describing. The key is “according to their works”…. You see Christians who have received Christ, have already been judged when Jesus was tried and crucified. He took our place and no fault was found in Him when Pilate examined Him. Justification means that Jesus was judged for us all, so this scripture does not describe believers.
What is described in this scripture is the Great White Throne of Judgment where all who have not received Christ will appear. Our works are never enough. Only belief and acceptance of Christ work of redemption will let a person enter heaven and escape Hell.
You can go to church and know why folks raise their hands, you can know why they give out a hearty “Hallelujah” or an exuberant “Amen”…. and yet never experience that reality for yourself. If you did, your hands would be up and you would be shouting a few “Hallelujahs”……We have a reason and a reality that can’t be held in and it will come out!
Revelation 20:14 “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death”.
So believers in Christ, will die a physical death, just as every person will.. but believers will not experience the second death, which is eternal separation from God. When Jesus experienced death for just a brief time, He cried out, My God, why have you forsaken me…. The demons of Hell thought they had Him, and He felt the pull, but He beat death and Hell, for Himself and all who would receive Him.
Death and Hell will be in the lake of fire, with all who have rejected Christ. It’s going to be Hell, hanging out with death for eternity!
Paul continues to write…..2 Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if our earthly house of this tent is dissolved, (He is speaking to believers when he says we and our) we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”.
Tonto woke the Lone Ranger up and said “Kimo Saby” what do you see? Lone Ranger said, “I see that the stars are beautiful tonight”. Well, what does that mean, “Kimo Saby”?.... Well, according to the North star, it’s about 3:00 in the morning, It will be clear today, with no chance of rain. The Milky Way is in the third quadron, the moon is in the 7th house, and it is the dawning of Aquarius.. No, “Kimo Saby”…. It means that someone has stolen our tent!
Well we are all going to reach a point, where someone steals our tent!
But you can be in the tent and if the tent is gone, you can still be all right!
Our bodies are like tents. They wear out, they sag, they expand, they wrinkle, the joints get creaky, the arteries harden, gravity pulls everything downward, the heart slows down, the eyes grow dim, the teeth fall out, the back is stooped, and the arms grow weary. Our bones break, our muscles weaken. The body bulges in the wrong places. We brag about our strength but a tiny microbe can kill us. Sooner or later we grow old and our bodies begin to break down. Eventually they stop working altogether. No amount of Vitamin C or Siberian Ginseng can change that fact. At best, we can only slow down the aging process; we cannot delay it forever.
This groaning may be because of a job we hate. Because of unfulfilled dreams. Because our bodies break down. We groan because our marriages break up, because our children go astray or because our friends disappoint us.
We groan because we live in a fallen, mixed-up, messed-up, broken-down world, and we ourselves get broken and less than we once were. So we look for a better day and a better place, and we dream of a better world where there is . . .No more cancer. No more abuse. No more hatred. No more hurricanes. No more crime. No more sadness. No more night. No more sickness and no more death.
Exercise is good and good nutrition is even better, and it would help all of us to get in shape and stay in shape. But I have a bit of news for you. Your body is not intended by God to last forever. You can eat all the low-carb ice cream you want, but your body will still fall apart in the end. Did you know your body (your tent) is dying all the time, every day? Every 7 years your body, except for your brain, replaces itself. Every 7 years you get a new version of your dying body!
Before the sun goes down each day, between 50 and 70 billion of your cells will die. That’s 350 billion cells a week. No wonder you need to lie down and take a nap. You’re falling apart even while you are listening to this sermon.
A pastor asked a class of children “what do you have to do to go to heaven”….One child said, go to church…. Another said say your prayers.. still another said, be good…. Then one child hit it on the head when he said, you have to die!
If you are a believer in Christ, you are in the process of moving out of a tent and into a permanent residence. Tents are temporary and flimsy, easily torn, and meant to be replaced. A building is strong, built on a foundation, and has more permanence.
For the Christian, Death is not the end. Death is not reincarnation.Death is not evaporation. Death is not annihilation. Death is a trade-in and a trade-up. So….Paul continues to teach us, under divine inspiration…. 2 Corinthians 5:2-3 “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked (vulnerable)”.
Folks have it all wrong… We are not going from the land of the living to the land of the dying….We are going from the land of the dying to the land of the living!
When a believer dies, folks say they are “with the Lord”… That’s awesome because we are with the Lord now, and we are with the Lord when we die! There should never be a “lonely Christian”….who ever feels alone… Just Christians that are WITH THE LORD!!
2 Corinthians 5:5 “Now He that has wrought us (accomplished His work in us) for the selfsame thing ( with the same intention) is God, who has also given unto us the earnest (down payment or impartation) of the Spirit”.
Another important scripture to include here is…. 2 Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord”.
I understand that when a loved one departs, a void is left in our hearts, and they are still loved and missed, but folks that go to a grave side and talk to their departed loved ones need to know…. You’re talking to a box! Nobody’s there. If they’re believers, they’re in heaven and they’re pretty busy! And If they’re not in heaven…. You’re still just talking to a box! Don’t get me wrong, visit the grave, draw inspiration from that person’s place in your life, rekindle the memories…but they are not there.
The body may be left behind but the believer’s soul and spirit are immediately in the presence of the Lord.
We can take assurance that Jesus said He would never leave us or forsake us…. That He would be with us always, even to the end of the world (and the world won’t end, but it will be made new in the end) So, talk to Him, not a box…He will hear you, and be with you!
Our new bodies will be like His resurrection body. We shall share His resurrection likeness and characteristics. It won’t be some spooky, ghost like, misty apparition! When Jesus rose from the dead, he received a glorified body. He walked with the disciples, He ate with them, they touched Him, and He even cooked a meal of fish and chips for them. He could walk through walls, as he did when they were locked in the room for fear, and He appeared in the midst of them. He could transport himself from one place to another, because He was able to pass from outside to inside the room where the disciples were gathered.
Once a person has passed over, there’s no need to pray for them, or burn candles for them, or do penance, or buy indulgences to help them change their status, once they have passed over….
Hebrews 9:27 ”And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”.
Also we have a scripture that is clear about the fact that whatever your condition when you depart this life, will be the condition you remain in…. Revelation 22:11 “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still”.
We’re talking about the Rest of the Story here……
So we can’t stop at this point…..
Every person on the planet must come to the place where they seriously ask themselves this question, “Is that all there is?” It is one of the most transformative questions a person can ask! To which Paul answers a resounding, “No!” We were all made for something better than the sadness, the loss, the disappointment, and the brevity which we see in this world.
That’s why scripture tells us 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us, not willing (it was never His desire) that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”.
I’m very, very particular about where I spend eternity!!! That is something I don’t want to take for granted or have a wait and see attitude….
It was never God’s intention for any person to go to Hell. Hell was created for Satan and his fallen angels or demons. If anyone goes there, they have succeeded in rejecting the constant love of God, the intercession of Jesus, the call of the Holy Spirit, the prayers of the saints in heaven, the work being done by the angels in a multitude of ways, and every witness by every messenger here on earth. You have to be determined to go to hell in order to get there.
A sincere asking of the question “Is that all there is”… will cause an answer to rise from within….
“I want more”!!!! “I want more”….
So for those who answer the call, We will have a new body - not the same as before….. not just renovated or reconstructed, but a new body – and yet our identity will not change.
The disciples knew Jesus after the resurrection and He knew them.
1Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known”.
What a great time of rejoicing it will be, when we are reunited with our believing family and loved ones, in heaven. I’m believing with you that they will all be there! What a day that will be!
We are all designed for a new life and a new body, a new existence and a new reality in the Lord. God himself has made us for this very purpose. This is our destiny and what we were created for! To be as He is, and to be with Him forever, through out all eternity!
It’s as certain as your awakening and getting out of bed this morning…(I say that because you are here)
Satan can’t stop it, the world can’t stop it, death can’t stop it….onlywe can stop our new life destiny by rejecting Christ and going our own way!
Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you”. (that’s not just at death, but in all of life as well)
Tell someone “Greater Things Lie Ahead”!!!
A woman who had been married 4 times, once to a banker, once to an actor, once to a minister, and once to an undertaker was near death. The minister visited her and asked her if she was ready to face eternity. She said “Reverend, I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and 4 to go!!!
Physical death is the final battle field, and it is on that sacred battle field, that we win the final battle, because Jesus came forth with a shout of triumph we shall come forth also!!!
The next time you go to a cemetery, take off your shoes, because you are standing on holy ground. It’s the place where God has harvested the most precious and valuable harvest of all. It is a harvest of destinies, it is a harvest of God’s purpose and intention for us all! It is a place of victory and triumph, and we who know Christ have already won!!!
Greater is He that is in you than death, Satan, fear, sickness, failure, sin, trials, and tests, and any other creature, that is in the world.
When there is a boxing or wrestling match, they grab the winner’s hand and lift his arm high into the air….
You that know Christ, have won the final battle…. (grab someone’s hand and lift their arm high in the air…. Now shout it out…..
“WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION”!!!!
Father, let Your Holy Spirit continue to fall as a “mighty Rushing Wind”, usher multitudes into Your church throughout this year. Lord continue to remove every blindfold of the enemy that is aimed at preventing folks from getting saved and established in the body of Christ. We come against and bind any resistance which would block the way of salvation and spiritual growth. let ears be opened and hearts transformed as Your message of grace goes forth.
Lord, let there be continuous confirmation of Your word with signs, wonders and miracles, that will persuade many into the Kingdom. Let there be revelation and understanding that will lead many into the ministry and the release of individual gifts to mobilize and motivate the church. We believe You, Lord, for deliverance and breakthrough that your church may be effective and world changing–
May your Church experience supernatural growth that will baffle and amaze human understanding this year.
Father, in the name of Jesus, we come against all interferences of excuses, weather, transportation challenges and every other thing that may hinder the growth of your church in this coming year. Lord, You said that you would build your church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Bring down the walls, that would divide and let your Kingdom advance and take back what the enemy has stolen.
Turn this city and the Keys into a harvest field this year and give us a new, sharp threshing instrument which will be effective in reaping the harvest –
Grant that we would have supernatural boldness, and glorious liberty as we reach out in Your mighty name. We pray for visions and dreams of the night, to prepare hearts even while they are asleep on their pillows. And we decree that every soul saved this year would be established in the faith and in Your Church –
We thank you in advance for your grace and favor on our lives –
The designers of your car wanted you to be able to see much more of what was out in front of you, than what is behind you. So the rear view mirror is very small in comparison to the windshield that you look through as you drive forward.
However the rear view mirror is positioned so that you can get a total and complete perspective of where you are and how to maneuver through traffic to help you arrive at your destination. Well, it’s a good idea, when you’re not texting, doing your make up, eating, and many, many other distractions.
We have a brand new year with endless possibilities and while our windshield is large, the rear view mirror cannot be ignored entirely. The Holy Spirit is using where we’ve been to give us fresh insight into where we are going.
Sometimes we need a little help to see what we need to see….
Margaret’s husband was on the bathroom scales, when she looked in and noticed that he was weighing himself. She saw that he was holding in his stomach while he did this and told him that holding in his stomach would not change what he weighed at all. To her advice, He said that holding in his stomach, was the only way he could see how much he weighed!
Sometimes we need to make some adjustments in order to see every thing we need to see correctly.
This is what happened on the day of Pentecost when the disciples of Jesus experienced a major adjustment in the way they saw everything….It marked a new beginning…..the beginning of the Church age and a movement that would incircle the globe…..That empowering of *….the Holy Spirit, produced Wisdom to see things from God’s perspective… understanding to comprehend the teachings of Jesus and the scriptures… Counsel (right judgement) to know what to do in difficult situations… Fortitude, courage, a confident spirit and strength of will, to overcome all obstacles.
On the day of Pentecost the crowd that gathered thought they were witnessing a bunch of drunks, and probably were wanting to know what they had been drinking, so they could get some for themselves. But Peter stood up with the 12 and built a bridge from what the people were thinking (that they were drunk) to the new wine of the Spirit, by saying “THIS IS THAT”…. In doing so, they looked through the larger windshield of new revelation while referring to the rear view mirror of prophetic promise.
Let’s look at it….Act 2:12 “And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What is the meaning of this? v13 mocking, they said, These men are full of new wine. “14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, You men of Judaea, and all who dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words, v15 For these are not drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.v16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel”. v17 (then Peter quotes Joel) “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. v18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”
Let me make a statement about that, using the analogy of the windshield and the rear view mirror…..
When “That” becomes “This”, the rear view mirror of God’s word which was spoken by promise in the past, becomes clearly reflected in the present. As this happens, it allows us to understand that the promised future has become the new reality of our lives! (hear it again)
Our core beliefs become the umpire of what we do every day and why we do it…. We arrive at the place of “This is That”, when we believe the promises in the word of God as much if not more than what we are seeing and experiencing at the moment…
The reality is, that belief is not a system of things we mentally consent to, but it is when God’s promises have such a strong influence upon us that it transforms our motives, and our actions. If you don’t act out “God so loved the world” then you don’t really believe it….. If you don’t act out “greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world”, then you don’t really believe it….. If you don’t act out, “Give and it shall be given unto you, full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over”, then you don’t believe it….. If you don’t act out, “You shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come”, then you don’t really believe it. (and we could go on and on)
This is That, (when I need healing)… This is That, when I need guidance… This is That, when I struggle with lack and insuffiency…. This is That, when we don’t understand and we don’t feel capable…..
The Lord tells us that we are in the world but not of the world. Regardless of what our situation is, we have been given a new reality. Our mission is to live our lives in the world as citizens of another realm. The realm we have been grafted into by grace, is a place of wholeness, joy, peace and sufficiency.
“This is That”, becomes the bridge that stretches from what God made available, to wherever we may be and whatever we may be doing in the here and now.
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, he positioned himself to build a bridge at the community well, that would reach from where she was, to where He desired to take her in her spiritual journey. At this place where the community came to get their physical water, which was essential to their life, He connected her to the water of the Spirit, which would never run out, but would be in her a constant flowing well.
There’s some folks that only come to the community well to gossip. Mildred, the church gossip and self-appointed umpire of the church's morals, kept sticking her nose in the other people’s private lives. Church members detested her gossiping ways, but feared her enough to maintain their silence and watch their P’s and Q’s. But Mildred made a big mistake, when she accused George Mayfield, of being an alcoholic after she saw his pickup truck parked in front of the town's only bar one afternoon. But George was only running an errand for the owner. Mildred commented to George and others that everyone seeing his truck there would know what he was doing and the double standard he was setting. Well, George, was a man of few words, and he stared at her for a moment… He didn't explain, defend, or deny anything, he said nothing and just walked away.. However, later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup truck in front of Mildred's house... and left it there all night long! Mildred didn’t gossip too much after that!
I have a brother in law, who was a mechanic, and carried a metal tool box to work every day. He decided to use his tool box as a bridge to take folks from “This to That”…. In big letters, he put the message, “Maybe Today” across the top of the tool box. Folks would ask him about it, or suggest what it meant, and he would have an opportunity to witness to them, in whatever way the Holy Spirit would lead at the moment. He would be able to present the message of salvation to them because of that connection that took place. He led many folks to the Lord in that manner.
As we continually make the journey from “this to that”, more and more we will find ourselves living in a world where we experience true peace, in spite of our disagreements and daily pressures. We will experience a deeper sense of God's love in every situation and circumstance, and we will enjoy the awe and amazement of life, with every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of our heart.
We can have confidence that God will show up and do amazing things in each and every day. We will see Life as a gift and we will treasure it… as an adventure and we will explore it….As a Lesson and we will learn from it. We will see Life as a puzzle that we are given to solve…That Life is a wonderful adventure and we can enjoy it…. it is an opportunity, which is ours for the taking…. And it is a gift for unwrapping… Success, prosperity and abundance in many forms and ways are finding their way into our life, because “This is That”, which is given to us for this time and this season of our lives!
The challenge of the caterpillar is to yield to the call of it’s inner “Butterfly self”… and to no longer accept that this is all there is, but to have a vision that is bigger and beyond what it is and what it can do, at the moment. To accomplish this, there must be an understanding of the process which only begins with "this", but was always intended to become "that"....There comes a transformative moment when the caterpillar becomes so strongly convinced of the butterfly self within him, that he ceases to be a caterpillar… and exchanges “this for that”!!!
I think of one particular woman who was a charter member of a church we pastored, and she dedicated herself to making our lives miserable. She was an old grouch, touchy, rude and generally miserable! One week the Holy Spirit brought some of God’s “THAT” into her miserable “THIS”…. And as she wept before the Lord, while standing at the altar, a glorious transformation took place. She became the sweetest, most gentle, happy person in the church. I have seen very few people under our time pastoring a church, who have had their entire nature change like this woman. It was so wonderful to see. ….. What she said she believed in the word of God, became what she began to become by experience!!! When she passed to heaven, my wife and I both heard angel choirs, welcoming her home.
Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”. “That” shall take the place of “This”…
I have shared with you that I was very shy, and insecure when I was a kid, up into my teen years. But God gave me music, and music became the vehicle which brought me out of myself. But when it came to spiritual things I continued to be very internal. I never raised my hands, I never prayed out loud, and I never witnessed. But at 15, I experienced “This is That” which is in Acts 1:8, and my butter fly self, began to emerge from my caterpillar self. I wanted to pray for everyone… I couldn’t keep my hands down in praise… and I started telling folks about what Jesus did for them…
Maybe you won’t reach the multitudes, but you can be like Stephen. The bible only records that Stephen reached one person. What could happen in 2018 if we all could faithfully minister to an audience of one! When Stephen touched the life of Paul, scripture tells us that Jesus stood up in heaven, to applaud him. As a result of Stephen reaching one, Paul's *…..life was changed forever! Paul reached multitudes and planted churches throughout Asia, Europe, and the islands of the Mediterranean Sea…The world is still being touched by the books of the bible God used him to write….Galatians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians, Philemon, Colossians, Philippians, 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus. All because Stephen witnessed to one man….
It is a tremendous shift in a Christian’s life when they are less focused on what God can do for them and more about what God can do through them! When they are less concerned about what God can bring them and more and more about where God can send them.
The promised land belonged to the Israelites before they got there, while they were still in the wilderness, it was already theirs! But because they couldn’t see it and physically touch it, most of them could not believe it and receive it. About two million, of those who left Egypt, died in the wilderness and never reached the promised land. They put more importance on what they saw in the moment, than they did on what God had said was theirs! This year, many who started out well, and fully intended on following Christ, will get distracted and turn aside, but for those who endure, who persevere, who walk by faith and not by sight…. They will march into their promise, strong, triumphant, and rejoicing in the faithfulness of God!
When David faced Goliath, he had a “This is that” experience. He said the same God who delivered a lion and a bear into my hands shall deliver this uncircumcised philistine into my hands. He knew that “This” which he was facing, was “That” which God promised, when Samuel anointed me as king. He knew he would defeat Goliath, because the promise hadn’t been fulfilled, and he was not king yet. So David slew Goliath and didn’t go from that victory to the king’s throne… No, he then went back to herding sheep, knowing that all would be accomplished that needed to be accomplished, to bring him to the throne in God’s time in God’s way.
Abraham had a “This is that” experience, when he was 100 years old. God told him that he would be a father when he was 75, but for 25 years he believed what he could not see. Even though God changed his name, to mean “the Father of nations”, he didn’t have even one son. It must have been a big joke as folks laughed about his name. But as he was nearing the century mark, God appeared to him and fulfilled the promise.
Romans 4:20 “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God. v21 Being fully persuaded that, what God had promised, He was able also to perform. v22 Therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness”.
During a very difficult season when the China Inland Mission was struggling to continue to minister to those in their area, because there were no funds, and bad health was an issue. Missionary Hudson Taylor wrote to his wife, the message….“We have twenty-five cents–and all the promises of God!
Has anyone else been there. Those are “This is That” moments in our lives!
I also read the account of John Paton, the pioneer missionary in the early days of reaching out to those who spoke the Melanesian language, had great difficulty in securing a word for faith, since there seemed to be nothing that was equivalent in their language. He made it a matter of special prayer. One day as the workers came in from a hard day in the fields, one of them leaned back in a lounge chair and said, ‘I am so tired I feel I must lean my whole weight on this chair’
‘Praise God,’ said Paton, ‘I’ve got my word. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever leans his whole weight on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life”.
Being afraid to put your whole weight on Christ and His promises, is like the guy who got on the plane and held his feet up, so he wouldn’t put his entire weight on the plane. Forget about it, God can handle it! And He already has!!!
When you put your whole weight on the Lord, if you’re believing for rain, you bring your umbrella….if you believe for sun, you bring your tanning lotion… if you believe for a new home, you start packing…. If you believe for a better job, you begin to fill out resume’s …. If you are trusting God for your family, begin to declare it every day and get God’s word on it!!!
Young Bobby was a mentally impaired young man. He was part of a special Education class that focused on the student’s capabilities instead of their limitations. They learned to play chess, to restore furniture and repair electrical appliances. But most important, they were taught to have faith and believe in themselves. Young Bobby soon proved how well he had learned the lesson, because ne day he brought in a broken toaster to repair. He carried the toaster tucked under one arm, and a half-loaf of bread under the other. He had a “this is that kind” of faith!
I wouldn’t have the beautiful lady, and mother of my children today, if I hadn’t believed God as a 19 year old, when God told me that I was called to the ministry. So I sold my car, paid off all my bills, bought a train ticket and headed for Pennsylvania. I got off the wrong stop (hours away from college) and a cab came driving down a dirt road, through a corn field to take me to the college, when I didn’t know what to do (God sent him)…He had attended the very same college. (what are the chances) I got to college and no one knew I was coming, I had no money to sign up, and I had no registration. Someone called the vice- President of the college and he came down, asked me to follow him, and heard my story. He asked me why I was there. I said that God had called me to the ministry and I needed to prepare. He then put me in his car and went to the bank and signed a note for my college bill. I did everything wrong and the only thing I did right was obey and go.
I’m telling this to someone today, because you don’t see how it can happen, because you’re trying to figure all the steps you have to make and all that has to come together to make it all turn out right. I’m telling you that God knows where you are and where you need to be, and He’s getting ready to show you that “This is That” spoken over your life, before you even reached this place.
God has been in your future waiting for you to arrive. He has been drawing you there by His spirit. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the angels He has assigned, are all working in your behalf, so you will be sure to make it. And He’s already there where you are going.
I want to close with this scripture….
John 14:2 “In my Father's house are many dwelling places, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. v3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also’.