As followers of Christ, we come to understand that whatever gifts we may have in our lives, are not just given to us, but they are also given through us. The gifts are about manifesting God’s abilities and desires through us.….They operate as He desires to operate them. God is actually giving these gifts to others but they pass through us. We become the delivery system, so that others may receive, glorify Him and invite Him into their lives or make a deeper commitment to Him.
1 Corinthians 12:4 “There are different kinds of gifts. But they are allgiven to believers by the same Spirit. v5 There are different ways to serve. But they all come from the same Lord. v6 There are different ways the Spirit works. But the same God is working in all these ways and in all people. v7 The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all".
There are two major, well known bodies of water in Israel. One is the sea of Galilee and the other is the Dead sea.
The Dead sea is fed by the Jordon River, and is the lowest land based elevation on the earth. It’s surface is 1,412 feet below sea level and it is 997 feet deep. It is 31 miles long and 9 miles wide and It is the saltiest body of water on earth, with water that is 9.6 times saltier than the ocean. Nothing can grow around it, and even though the life giving water of the Jordon flows into it, there is nothing that flows out of it, so it gives nothing, but it only receives. The rate of evaporation is so high, that the Dead Sea loses more water through evaporation than the Jordon pours into it and is shrinking every year.
The Sea of Galilee is also fed by the Jordon river. It is the larger of the two at 33 miles long and 13 miles wide. But it’s waters are only 141 feet deep at it’s deepest point. It’s banks and it’s waters are filled with life which flourishes within and around it. You see, it gives out as much water as it takes in. Jordon doesn’t just flow into it, but Jordon flows through it and keeps it flourishing vibrant, alive and sustained. Everything God has given you should not stop with you, but flow through you to bless all you come in contact with….
Jesus said to the woman at the well John 14:14 “ But whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give will become an endless fount of water springing up to eternal life.” To his disciples Jesus said John 7:37 “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who is working in you, both to will and to work his good pleasure”.
Jesus is reminding us that our belly or our center, should be a place where rivers of what we have received of Him are flowing out of us. He has rivers to pour into us, but He has chosen for those rivers to flow through us….This principle is not about your potential, we all have great potential. But it is about using your capacity and increasing that capacity by how much you allow God to pour into you and out of you….
PLACE YOUR HANDS ON YOUR BELLY AND SAY “Into my inner most being, rivers are waiting to flow and I determine how much will flow out through me to increase my capacity” The more you allow, the greater your capacity….
We are ordained to be channels of blessing to others. We are not called to live only for ourselves, or to disregard the needs of others….
A guy went into the store for just a few minutes. When he came out there was a policeman writing a parking ticket for being in a handicap spot. So he went up to the policeman and said, "Come on, buddy, how about giving a guy a break?"
He ignored him and continued writing the ticket. So he called the policeman a pencil-necked ticket abuser. He glared at the giu and started writing another ticket for worn tires!
So the guy asked him if his psychiatrist makes him lie face down on the couch cause he's so ugly.
He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket!
This went on until he had placed 5 tickets on the windshield... the more he insulted the ticket writer, the more tickets he wrote. But the guy didn't care. His car was parked around the corner. We can’t ignore the needs of other people….This guy cared only for himself….
What’s flowing out of us to our spouse, our children, our neighbors and others in the community…. What do they see….
The only time that rivers stop flowing, is when there is a drought, a dry season, or a famine. Or something has blocked them and stopped the flow, And that should never be the case with those who are the recipient of His rivers. The river of God overwhelms any obstacle.
His rivers of the Spirit never run dry, and they are always flowing, no matter what is happening around us. They are able to overwhelm any barrier that stands in their way. Jesus is calling us to let His rivers flow in all the dry places of life, to all who have a dry season in their lives….
Matthew 10:8 “Freely give, even as you have freely received.” Oh, Yes, Let it flow through you….
After writing an entire chapter on the resurrection, Paul doesn’t’ tell us to hang on till Jesus comes, or store up everything for the end times, or separate ourselves from the world and just worry about “Your’s truly”…..no, look at it….
1 Corinthians 15:58 – “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be stedfast, unmovable, as you continue to always abound in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor (your giving and good works) is not in vain in the Lord”. It may not happen right away, but you can believe the God of covenant, that it will happen!
We give the things we cannot keep, to keep what we cannot lose…. Believe, and Let it flow…
After receiving so much from the Lord, we don’t want to stand one day as an empty shell, having no reward, but just getting in by the skin of our teeth…
There was a minister who was attempting to console the widow of an eccentric millionaire who had just died. Standing before the casket, the pastor who meant well, said, “I realize this must be a very hard time for you, Mrs. Smith. Just try to remember that what we see before us is only the husk, it is just the shell of your dear husband– the nut has gone to heaven.”
We don’t want to stand before God, an empty shell with nothing to show for the life we have lived….
Stop Forcing, and Start flowing
The key to the principle we’re talking about today, is to struggle less and surrender more… Jesus said “out of your inner most being shall flow (please get that word..) FLOW…rivers of living water”…
I have never seen a fruit tree straining and struggling to bear fruit. Or stressed out because it had to produce.. It knows that there is a law of productivity. Apple trees produce apples, peach trees produce peaches, and so on….
It is in surrender to their purpose, that trees, vines, animals, fish and birds, reproduce and flourish. It is in surrender that they fulfill their purpose. We hear a lot about “surrender” but what does that really mean? Well, there is no one-step way to surrender to God, it’s a daily, moment by moment choice to give it to God. Let’s look at some ways that we can surrender to God spiritually… Spending time in prayer is about intentionally giving our plans and desires to God, and opening ourselves to His intentions and plans for us. You never really pray without surrender.Scripture shows us that this is the way Jesus began and ended every day… He shifted the focus from himself and toward the Father. He said “Whatever the Father tells me is what I do. Whatever the Father says is what I say. I do nothing except what the Father tells me.
Now that doesn’t happen in a day or a week, it’s a life pattern you begin to develop, because of a deep desire to do the Father’s will…We will all continue to be God’s unfinished projects, until that which is perfect is come.. You and I will not continue to do something or be consistent about something that has no value to us or importance in our lives . Newspapers carried the story of Al Johnson, a Kansas man who came to faith in Jesus Christ in his late 50’s. Why would they carry a story about someone coming to Christ? What made his story remarkable was not his conversion, but the fact that as a result of his newfound faith in Christ, he confessed to a bank robbery he had participated in when he was nineteen years old, but was never caught. Because the statute of limitations on the case had run out, Johnson could not be prosecuted for the offense. Still, he believed his relationship with Christ demanded a confession. And he voluntarily repaid his share of the stolen money! He surrendered his desires to the Father’s desires and plans.
David wrote in Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Word is within my heart.”
Perhaps many Christians fail in getting to know the word of God, and becoming familiar with the bible, because they fail to see it as the God breathed, God inspired letter from home that it is. If you view heaven as your permanent home, and this world as a temporary place you are just passing through, then every scripture is a precious message from home, sent from the Father.
It’s a connection to the Father, sending His love, His resources, His desires, and His thoughts and intentions.
Fasting is really a form of more intense surrender to the Father. It’s an important tool in opening our Spirit and bringing our soul and our flesh into submission. All through the bible we see breakthrough which is brought about by fasting and prayer.
Moses fasted and brought the commandments down from Sinai, written by the finger of God. Jesus initiated His ministry with 40 days of fasting. Fasting is an opportunity to increase our spiritual capacity… Our flesh is the enemy in surrendering to God more fully, and the purpose in fasting is to diminish the pull and power of the flesh and empower the influence of the Spirit.
In a time when everything is too convenient, we must choose to deny ourselves, of food, of pleasures, and all that distracts from our greater need, that I decrease so He may increase in me… Our bodies were fashioned to need seasons of famine and seasons of feasting… Christians are called to live a fasted life. We put aside other things so we can give our time, our finances, and our priorities to greater purpose We feast to celebrate but we fast to transform….
Matthew 6.33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”
If this were a French movie, you could just write your own ending, but it’s not, and that ending has already been written. Fasting is part of God’s surrender package, which taps into the supernatural.
Fasting sensitizes my Spirit to hear the voice of God. When we are at a crossroads and don’t know which way to turn, fasting helps us to hear God’s direction. When we are facing a difficult decision, or when there are too many voices in our heads, when like Job, our friends are encouraging us in the wrong direction… we need to put it all aside and get a bead on the most important voice of all, and let God speak.
Fasting establishes our priorities….We come to places where what used to satisfy us doesn’t satisfy us any more. More food, more clothes, more television, more trips, more stuff, doesn’t do it anymore! We’re at a new place and we need a new plan. Our spirit is telling us something, it’s time to listen…When nothing else works, it’s time to fast!
As we surrender it creates an environment for miracles to flow. We come under God’s power and authority. An atmosphere is created for heaven to touch the earth and transform our circumstances of lack, chaos, and fear into God’s opportunity to usher in His peace, to supply our needs and saturate the atmosphere with faith for others as well.
Our Spirit becomes starved and weak, when we fail to nourish it with prayer and God’s word. Just as we need to nourish our bodies, we need to supply our Spirit and Soul with much-needed sustenance and nutrients that it desperately needs. When we allow our Spirit to reign, then the power of God within us, will create opportunities and transform circumstances so that He accomplishes what we never could.
An important key to surrender is alignment. I can’t get to Virginia beach if I get on a plane going to Hartford, Connecticut. I can’t order a meal at Outback, if I’m looking at a menu at Denny’s. I can’t expect a paycheck at Publix if I’m working at Winn-Dixie…. There has to be alignment. Let me show you a scripture on alignment… 1 John 5:14 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him." Forgiveness is an important alignment tool that we have been given. God’s word clearly tells us that we will be judged, if we don’t forgive. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to drop dead. Why would anyone allow the person who victimized you to keep victimizing you by letting them control you emotionally and spiritually. Unforgiveness is Satan’s way of holding you hostage. Unforgiveness is agreement with the Devil to let him hold you hostage. Matthew 7:2 For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye?
When you surrender in forgiveness, You bring yourself into alignment with freedom, healing, and breakthrough!
Let me add one more alignment tool, and that is Repentance. Repentance is a powerful tool for alignment. If Christ forgives you, then you need to forgive yourself. Christ didn’t save us to leave us where we were. He loves us enough to not leave us where He found us. Salvation is a package deal for body, soul, and Spirit. If we put our faith in Christ, received His salvation, and declared His Lordship, but we’re not following Him, we need the alignment that comes through repentance.
Luke 9:23 “And Jesus said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me”.
Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore, and be converted (ep-ee-stref'-o)”… This Greek word, connected to repentance, means “return to the obedience of God”….”To turn around and come back”…. This is spoken as a command and not just a suggestion… If someone you loved was about to get hit by a car, you would not make a suggestion. You would immediately be in a command mode… “Turn around and come back, now”…
There is an urgency here, that there is danger, that the alignment is urgently needed… “REPENT AND BE CONVERTED”….(or be aligned) There is an urgency from the Holy Spirit… There is too much that hangs in the balances, we may not see it, but He does….
There is a town in the remote portion of Canada called Wabush. It was completely isolated for a long time. But a road was cut through the wilderness to reach it. Wabush now has a road leading into it, and, only one road leading out of it. (A lot like Key West) If someone traveled the road for six to eight hours to get into Wabush, there is only one way he or she could leave.
Each of us, before Christ, found ourselves in a place of disobedience. And just like Wabush, there is only one way out—and that road was built by God himself. But in order to take that road, one must first turn around. That complete about face is what the Bible calls conversion, and without it, there's no way out of the town of disobedience.
I find it interesting that scripture requires both Repentance and conversion. Repentance is not enough if conversion doesn’t take place as well. Someone may feel the need to repent, but never take the next step to turn around and begin the journey that goesthe other way….
Alignment is what takes place as conversion begins.
Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore, and be converted”. So we surrender and come into Alignment because we value God’s presence, His plan and His purpose in our lives and we desire His anointing, His power, and His desires to flow through us, that many may know and follow Him….
Lord, help us to stop the struggle and start the flow….let it flow through us, so that others may know…
Often it’s not the many things we do but the one thing that makes all the difference. The one thing, makes the many things worth while. The one thing is what the many things were all about. Everything else pales compared to what got us to the one thing. Many folks live their entire lives to be finally remembered by the one great thing they did….
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.13 Brothers, I do not yet consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.…
Paul is encouraging the church of Philipi, to not give up even though it may not seem that they have accomplished much, to keep pressing on, because God is faithful who has promised. The one thing that He encourages them to do is to be faithful in what God has called them to do. But even more, to trust God, more than what they may see, hear or feel.
In the book Second Calling, Dale Bourke writes that years ago, she attended a conference and when it was over, her friend Bruce offered her a ride to the airport. As they were about to leave, another man who was also at the conference, asked if he could get a ride with them. As they drove away from the hotel, she and Bruce asked the man where he worked, and he mentioned the Christian organization he represented at the conference. Bruce commented that, he had fond memories of that group, because once he attended a retreat of theirs, and that’s where he became a Christian. It was in 1972 in New Hampshire. Bruce went on to explain that eventually his whole family became Christians through his conversion, and went into full time Christian service. His sister was a Wycliffe missionary and Bruce himself became publisher of a major Christian publishing house, which brought many significant Christian books to the public forum. Bruce finished the story with a flourish saying that the conference had achieved worldwide impact. The man was silent. Then he said with shaky voice, “I led that retreat. It was my first time as a conference leader, and until this moment, I felt like a total failure. I have always believed that first conference was one of the biggest failures of my life.” Dale wrote of that meeting, “What had seemed like the simple act of offering a ride to a stranger had turned into a powerful reminder that God uses our efforts in ways that we seldom realize.
We may spend the rest of our lives doing things that don’t seem at all successful. Yet God knows the purpose and in the end result, we are simply called to be faithful.” Could you perhaps be the one to lead the next world changer to a relationship with Christ. The next Joseph Prince, or Joel Osteen or perhaps the next TD Jakes or Kenneth Copeland. But there will be some discouragement to overcome, some intimidation to rise above, and some mountains of fear to put under your feet…
Paul in another place refers to the good fight…1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses”.
The Good fight is not only about how you fought, but it’s about the cause you were fighting for.
With all the pressures of our world, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what we are supposed to be fighting for. What was the purpose of it all. Why did certain things happen to us, that knocked us down, and caught us on our blind side. We were doing so well, and the next thing we were down on the mat, taking the 8 count. The rug had been pulled out from under us….
John asked his wife, Mary, what she wanted as they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. "Would you like a new mink coat?" he asked. "No, Not really," said Mary. "Well how about a new Mercedes sports car?" said John. "No, Not really" she responded. "What about a new vacation home in the country?" he suggested.
She again rejected his offer. "Well what would you like for our anniversary?" John asked. Mary said "John, I'd like a divorce," "Well”, John said, “I’m Sorry, but I wasn't planning on spending that much,"
What happened to you, is not the measure of “A good fight”…. It’s how you fought, and it’s about staying on purpose. Were you faithful, regardless of how hard you got hit. Did you get back on the horse that just threw you off? Get back on the tricycle that you just crashed. CM Ward, used to say, “if they tarred and feathered me and ran me out of town. God help me to have a big enough vision to get up in front and lead the parade”….
So many on this journey of faith have lost it in the battle ground of the mind.
The enemy took them out by reminding them of what happened in their past. He threw every mistake they ever made, every wrong choice, and the moment they accepted that this is who they are, they got knocked down for the count. Get back up, look up, dress up in the garments of righteousness, and show up like you mean it!
When He reminds you of who you used to be, remind him of his destiny, and that you’re going to be there to witness it!!!
Philippians 3:13- “but this one thing I do: forgetting what liesbehind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.
If a runner looks behind him too much, they can stumblein a New York minute or lose sight of the goal they’rerunning for. Every race is a new race. No matter what happened before, there’s never been a time like this time.
We must even let go of the way God did it the last time, or how the Spirit moved the last time, because He will do it different this time. We can be so locked in to how it was done the time before, that we don’t listen to the new revelation or the new direction. I believe to some God is saying “Behold I will do a new thing, how can you know it if you are locked into the last time….?
If you don’t let go of where you were, you can’t get to where you are going….
Repeat after me… “I’m not perfect and that’s OK!” If you’re looking for perfection, you’ll be defeated, because that won’t come until you leave this body. But God is not looking for perfection, He’s looking for progress, He’s looking for obedience, humility, patience, longsuffering, which are qualities that people who think they have to be perfect, don’t have time for….They’retoo busy being perfect….
He says that His strength is revealed in our weakness. He says that those who humble themselves, the Lord will exalt in due season. Every weakness you have is an opportunity for God to show His power….
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “The Lord said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”.
Paul boasted in his weakness, because then all the glory and all the praise went to Christ and not to Him….
Instead of the enemy using Paul’s weakness against him, He channeled it to the praise and honor of Christ! Hallelujah!
God knows that in our weakness we lean in greater measure on Him. The Devil will keep beating you up and defeating you unto you come to an understanding of the Christ in you….
It was Paul who also said in Colossians 1:27 “It is Christ in me, who is the hope of glory.”
You want to see God’s glory, look at the triumphant Christ, crucified on a cruel cross. You can see God’s glory in the situations where we are being crucified with Christ and we maintain our good confession and keep our eyes on the prize, and His presence and his glory is very present there….
Job 23:10 “But He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold (with his glory).
Job went through what he went through, knowing that when it was finished, God would be glorified and get all the praise! He was helpless to do many things, but this one thing he could do, he could be faithful!
Faithfulness was Paul’s solution to moving on from the past… He said from his prison cell, “I press toward the mark of the prize”… He is telling us that he got busy being faithful to the tasks which God had given him to do. Pressing beyond his feelings and his emotions, and all the distractions to fulfill his purpose, moment by moment, one task at a time…
I like the little story of one woman who refused to give up on her goal….
This woman was complaining to her friend, “All my husband and I do any more is fight. He’s abusive, insensitive, and just generally stinks! I’ve been so upset,I’ve lost 20 pounds.” “Well I’m sorry to hear that, dear, but If it’s that bad, why don’t you just leave him?” asks the other friend. Oh no, my goal is to lose another 15 pounds first.”
We have to come to a point when we transform ourthoughts into tangible actions. Whatever is needed to get us to the next stage of our job, our family, our personal growth, our professional achievement, or spiritual involvement needs to be given action at some level, starting now, today, because tomorrow never comes. If you feel that there are things you can’t do…..(this is where the pressing comes in)…. DO WHATEVER YOU CAN DO!!
Make that phone call, get that address, fill out another resume, knock on a door….
God will honor you in what you CAN DO…. After all He told us to…
Ask and it shall be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened! (Say it with me)…. “I will ask and it shall be given, I will seek and I will find, I will knock and the door will be opened”!!! That’s transformative action! Welcome to the Transformative Action Institute!
Now if you
Listen to what the Lord promises you, if you will do The One Thing!
1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast and immovable. Always excel in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”.
When the real estate market bubble burst, we had put our house on Ramrod up for sale. The sale sign, and the advertisement produced one person in 3 years who even offered a bid on it. I walked around the property and spoke over and to it, then the Lord said, “You say you want to sell, but you don’t act like you’re moving…” I said, but Lord, we have no offers. He said, “go out and get all the boxes you need and put them in the downstairs.” So the next day, I went dumpster diving and filled my downstairs with boxes. Within a week, we had a contract on the house, and the agent was willing to do all the paper work and closing for 1,200.00!
The one thing I could do, I did, and God did the rest….
There’s something you can do now, to begin to move things forward. You might come up with many things, but it’s the one thing that is going to make a difference. It’s the one thing that will turn it all around. Do the one thing! It’s not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord!!! OH, somebody needs to hear this!!
Jesus said, many call me Lord, Lord, but don’t do what I say! Paul said “This one thing I do!” Not just what I say, but what I do about what I say!
A couple had stayed for a few nights at a hotel, and as they were ready to go, the man saw a survey on the desk and told his wife to hold on because he felt he should fill out the survey. He gave the hotel high marks, and complimented them on the quality of their towels, but when it got to the box for any complaints, he wrote… “The towels are so large, I could hardly close my suitcase”
You can’t take the hotel towels if you want the anointingthat brings abundance!!! (at least they didn’t take the pillows)!!
Do the One Thing you Can do and leave the results to God. The one thing you do, may look as though it has nothing to do with getting you where you need to be, and nothing to do with what you’ve been praying for. But the one thing that was required of David was to take lunch to his brothers who were in the Israeli army, facing the Philistines. That one thing positioned him in the face of King Saul, who put him in the face of Goliath and the rest is history! That one thing was a king maker!
The one thing Elijah did was to ask the widow woman for a little pancake to eat, and it resulted in a miracle which fed her and her son and all the neighbors, for the duration of the famine that gripped the land. That one thing was a famine breaker!
The one thing that Moses could do well was handle a walking stick and God used that rod to work miracles, defeating Egypt, opening the Red Sea, bringing water from the rock, and defeating their enemies….That one thing was a History maker!
What is the One Thing you have that He’s waiting to use.
I was looking again at the time when Jesus was visiting Mary and Martha, He told Martha in Luke 10:42 that “one thing was needed,” While Mary had found peace in her“one thing” as she sat at Jesus’ feet in worship, Martha was “worried and troubled about many things,” including serving everyone. But Martha didn’t realize that while she was faithful in serving, it was not about the one thing that was needed, and that was to make it all about Jesus, not just all about the serving. She was getting a bad attitude, and getting critical, because her serving had become more important than the one she was serving….(does that make sense?) It’s not just what we do but how and why we do it that matters to God…
It’s one thing to act, it’s another to make even the most menial tasks all about Him…
Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. Amen!”
Paul said that everything is from God. He is the first cause, the source, the Alpha. Then Paul said that through Him everything is. God is the effective cause of everything in creation. Man has been credited for creating many things, but all he has really done is discover what has come through the Father. And finally, Paul said that everything is to Him. He is the ultimatecause, He is the Omega. It all returns to Him and He will receive the final credit, the honor and the glory forever.
Everything and everyone fulfills their greater purpose in bringing Him glory. It is our chief aim, and our highest purpose. We are to honor Him and His ways through our thoughts, our choices and our actions. It’s always tragic when people lose sight of that…. Gregory’s obituary appeared in the Times Newspaper. He died as a transvestite in Miami. Married four times with six children he had once been a celebrity and successful pediatrician. But Gregory succumbed to alcoholism and his license to practice medicine was suspended. Haunted by self-doubt and unable to live in the shadow of his father, When he died, he was known as Gloria in a women’s prison. When he was just 19, Gregory’s father blamed him for his mother’s death from cancer and did not speak to him for ten years before killing himself in precisely the same way Gregory’s grandfather had done before him. You see, Gregory, or Gloria, was the youngest son of Ernest Hemingway. Ernest Hemmingway’s parents were regular churchgoers but detested their son’s ungodly lifestyle. Eventually his mother refused to see him. One year, for his birthday, she mailed him a cake along with the gun his father had used to kill himself. Hemingway never got over his hatred for his mother or her Savior. And it seems his own children paid dearly for the lack of love and grace he experienced from his parents.
How ironic that Ernest Hemingway, spurned by his religious parents, as messed up and confused as he was, an emotionally abused child, who in turn abused his own children, took his own life as his father whom he did not want to be like, had done. The greatest shame is that the one thing that they all could have done, could have changed history as we know it…
Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for You have created all things, and for Your pleasure they are and were created”.
Many things may be important, and many things may compete for our priority, but they need to stand in line, because the Lord is letting us know, “one thing is needed.” David wrote in Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek, that I may dwell in the house (presence) of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon
the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple (His dwelling place)”.
When David’s enemies were pursuing him, more than better armor, swords, or chariots, David asked for God’s presence….
In Hebrews, Paul likens himself to a runner, who is running after Christ, and who has laid aside everything that might slow him down from his pursuit. The people of that time understood his meaning, because the runners of that day, would compete in the nude, so that there would be no restrictions to keep them from running the best race that was possible. These guys lived for the prize at the end of the race but they trained for the race itself, so they could win the prize.. We run the race of life for a greater reward than any earthly prize…
Hebrews 12:1-2. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily hinders us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
My children are all reminding me that I’m at the age where I should be thinking about retirement. (4 more have been added since this picture on the screen) Well, I have come to the place in my life where ministry is not just what I do, it is who I am. Whatever the future holds, I see myself sharing the unsearchable riches of Christ, as long as there is breath in my body, or I am caught up in the clouds of glory to be with Him forever. There was a time, when I was a farmer, then I was a grocery clerk, then I was a college student, and then I was a meat cutter, which was the last job I had outside of the ministry. But through all of those things, I sought to do the one thing…. Seek His presence, and what He would have me do to make Him known, accepted and honored by whoever I could.
I haven’t been perfect, or without cracks and flaws, but I have always desired to be His ambassador, and seek His presence…. I hope that many will join me…. Many folksmay never attend our church, but as long as they get hungry and thirsty for Him, it will be worth it all! It’s what I live for…Jesus said that we are to be salt and light in this world that we live in…
If we will do the one thing, it will have a domino effect, and we will find that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us… Many things which could not happen without Him will begin to happen in our lives. Connections, resources, abilities, and directions, we never thought possible will become possible….FromHim, through Him and for Him!
Ephesians 1:3-4 “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love… having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.”
He has already chosen each of us, but we must choose Him, every day, all day.
We were reserved for God’s pleasure – to know him and love him and serve him; That’s what the word predestined means. We are reserved for Him….
We were created to be part of God’s family –We are at home in His family. We have been made heirs and joint heirs. He has left us a covenant inheritance.
We were redeemed to become like Christ – As we believe and receive, God looks at us and He sees Jesus in us. His righteousness, His power, His authority and His Spirit.
We were equipped for serving Him – with a unique blend of talents, skills and passion. He has given each of us everything we need for a life of victory and success.
We were made for a purpose – To have fellowship with Him, and to introduce other people to Christ, so that they too might live for the praise of His glory.
Grace is the source of our new position in Christ.
Faith is the means of access for our new position in Christ
Good works is the product of our new position in Christ
Romans 8:38-39 'For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'
The amazing news is that nothing can move you from your position in Christ unless you allow it…..
For He has given us power over all the power of the enemy that nothing by any means shall be able to hurt you (violate you against your will). What’s happening on the outside cannot determine your position on the inside….
Oh, that we might know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, and that we might be filled with the fullness of God. The fullness which He has intended for all of us to walk in and live in as we do His good pleasure! Can you say, “Thank You Lord for choosing me, and giving me your fullness”….
Prayer….. Father, in Jesus name, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray that out of Your glorious riches you would strengthen me with power in my inner being so that I might fully offer myself to You. I pray that I would be rooted and established in love, that I might grasp how wide and long and high and deep Your love is. I believe that you are able to do far more than I can even imagine by Your power that is now working in me.
I ask you to transform my mind and my spirit daily, that I might receive the blessings and opportunities you have planned for me. I choose to step out in faith for I know that You hold the future and You have plans for my life for good and not for evil. When the world sends out hate, help me to love. When the past won’t let go, help me to remember Your grace. When the enemy taunts with lies and surrounds me with darkness, help me to stay in your light.
When a relationship feels broken or I’m betrayed or rejected, help me to forgive by the power of Your Spirit.By faith, I move through the new doors which you are opening before me, that no one will be able to shut. The power of Your presence in me, prepares my path before me and strengthens me so that I can succeed and prosper, even when it seems impossible, even when it doesn’t make sense. I know that You are the same yesterday, today and forever, and you will do exceedingly above and beyond what I think or ask, In Jesus name, Amen!
Before we close, I wrote down a word that Holy Spirit dropped into my Spirit…. I think this is the time I am to share it…
"This time ahead will be a time of unexpected outcomes, a time of unforeseen conclusions. If you only lean on the natural wisdom or even common sense, it will fail you. God is about to pull some surprises in your lives, but it's much bigger than that, for it involves the country and in the world. Everything looked like it was going to be one way, but it will end up another. God is going to have the last word, no matter what it looks like now. It truly is not by might nor by power, but by the sovereign will and purpose of God".
I was reading Ezekiel, and found something which I had not really zeroed in on before, but this time it was quickened in me, and I knew it needed further study. I'm talking about Ezekiel 48:35 “The distance all around the city will be 18,000 cubits (five and one half miles). And the name of the city from that time on will be Jehovah Shammah, The Lord Is There.” This verse is describing the Millennial temple, and the Holy city with the glory of God resting upon it, which Ezekiel was shown by God. Herod’s temple which was standing in all it’s splendor when Jesus was alive, had no glory resting on it, because Jesus was there and He was the embodiment of God’s glory, not the temple.
The temple which will be built in the future, will have no glory upon it, because it will be the Anti-Christ temple, where the man of iniquity, will sit upon the altar of it, and proclaim that he is god. The temple which Ezekiel saw will be built after the anti-Christ temple is destroyed and it is about the restoration of all that God intended for His people, with the Glory within and upon it… it was to be named “The Lord is There”.
When I was a kid in school, every morning as the first order of business, we would say the pledge, and then the teacher would call the roll, and we would answer “here” or “present”, some kids would say “Yo” or just grunt… But the teacher kept score, because you were only allowed so many absences, before Mom and Dad were called in for a meeting, and if you were late a certain number of times, it equaled an absence. So being present was important.
When the roll is called, you can trust Him, He has chosen to come and bring His presence and glory within the dwelling place of the lives of His people. We are now His habitation of choice….He is the God who is there.
John 14:17 "He dwells with you and shall be in you". 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you yourselves are God's temple, and that God's Spirit dwells in you”?
And especially Ephesians 2:21 “In Him the whole building is fitted together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in Him you too are being built together into a dwelling place by His Spirit”.
I want you to notice that Ephesians is showing us two separate processes that are taking place…
The first describes the building of a house, the second, describes moving into the house and making it a home. There is a great difference between my building a house and my moving in, to reside in that house and make it my home. And there is a great difference between the Holy Spirit's work in saving a soul, and His coming to reside, abide and control the innermost spirit and life of the one who has been saved.
Many have received the house of salvation, and acknowledged Him as the Owner, Proprietor and Keeper, but they have not taken it to the level of "a habitation of God through the Spirit"where He moves in to live! When we move into a house, we immediately begin to put our stuff, all the things we like, and need, and fill it up so it’s not just a house, but our home…. The pictures, the furniture, the paint on the walls, the plants and the carpet, all reflect something about us and our family.
God is no different… He wants to call our home, “Jehovah Shammah” (I am present there”….) He wants to move in and never leave you, nor forsake you. He wants to be with you forever. Your best friend, who never forsakes you. The one whowas where you’ve been, The one who is where you are and The one who is where you haven’t been yet!
So we invite Him in, but we put “No trespassing” signs all over the place. We invite Him to come in, but we want to tell God how to be, what to do and when and where to do it. A God that you control, is not really God at all!! We need a savior, but we don’t want a king living in our home… Because a King expects things to be done His way at His choosing, and in His time.
But when He becomes “Jehovah Shammah”, whose presence is there, He brings all His stuff with Him to make it His home….Too often, the struggle we have is about “JUST WHOSE HOME, AND WHOSE LIFE IS THIS”!!
But when you invite a king into your home, they tend to act like kings! So, He moves in and brings His stuff with Him…
Like the fruit (or what flows out) of the Spirit…
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
So He says, “I want you to love and forgive that person”…. But you have a “no trespassing sign” there…. “What… love them, I can’t stand them, so why should I forgive them”…. And little by little the glory diminishes, and we embrace resentment and bitterness, instead of the fruit of the spirit. And the bitter root grows…The power of the bitterness comes when we keep agreeing with it and we nurture it and empower it….There are many physical ailments which are the product of the root of bitterness… arthritis, heart disease, vascular problems, digestive track ailments, ulcers, headaches, systemic toxicity.. and on it goes….I remember one lady who came up for prayer and the Spirit told me she suffered from acute arthritis because of the root of bitterness. We rebuked it and renounced it and she was healed and set free….
Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with everyone, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. v15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God, and that no root of bitterness springs up to cause trouble and defile many”. (Receive your healing and freedom)
When we obey God and trust Him, we understand that as we forgive, we are releasing that person to God so He can do what we could never do…
When He moves in and makes our house His home… we give Him more and more control of our lives, He begins to do in and through us what only He can do – His presence begins to shape our character and grow us to become more like Christ.
I’ve found that praying in the spirit, sensitizes my spirit, to be tuned in to His voice and His promptings. He invades my thoughts and emotions and allows me to hear and do things that would not be available to me other wise. Begin your day with prayer in the spirit and end it that way. Allow it to become a normal part of your day….
You can’t start a fire with wet wood, but when the wood is dry and cured, it easily catches fire! Praying in the Spirit, makes it easier for God’s fire to ignite your soul!
We desire the Gifts of the Spirit of God, but it is the Fruit of the Spirit that provide the foundation for all the gifts. The fruit are about our redeemed character as Christians under His influence and His rule. Paul tells us that without the fruit of the spirit, we become sounding brass and tinkling cymbals! The gifts are to operate out of love. The gifts are about manifesting God’s abilities and desires through us.….Theyoperate as He desires to operate them. God is giving these gifts to others through us. We become the delivery system, so that others may receive, glorify Him and invite Him in.
It’s a wonderful thing to be friends of the King….
1 Corinthians 12:4 “There are different kinds of gifts. But they are all given to believers by the same Spirit. v5 There are different ways to serve. But they all come from the same Lord. v6 There are different ways the Spirit works. But the same God is working in all these ways and in all people. v7 The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all.
v8 To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. v9 To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. v10 To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to identify spirits.
To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. v11 All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit, for He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides”.
A dad was having family bible reading with his wife and 4 kids, and he was reading this scripture when he asked, "Is there anything God can't do?" All was silent. Finally, one boy held up his hand. He said, "Well, Bobbie what is it you think God can't do?"
Bobbie said, "He can't please everybody." This kid nailed it!! I don’t want to pop anyone’s bubble, but King Jesus doesn’t move into our lives to please us, because He will often ask things of us, that the flesh and the natural mind are not pleased with.
Paul talks about this very thing but it’s not a problem, when we let Jesus come in as the ruler in our lives… 1 Corinthians 12:25 “ let there be no division among you, stop taking sides. Begin to take care of one another. 26 So that If one of you suffer, everyone else suffers with them. If one of you is honored, every one shares in their joy”.
He says that when Jesus comes in to rule our lives, we will get along, we will support one another, and we will honor and bless one another. The world should be able to follow the example of those who say they are Christians, when the king is in residence.
One fellow who was struggling with letting God call the shots in his life, wrote the following poem….
O Lord I'm your willing servant, You know that I have been for years
I'm here in this pew every Sunday and I've stained it with many tears
I've given you years of my service, I've always given my best
And I've never asked you for very much, So Lord I deserve one reques
Please don't send me to Africa, I don't think I've got what it takes
I'm just a man, I'm not a tarzan, Don't like lions, or rivers, or snakes I'll serve you right here in suburbia, In my comfortable middle class life. Please don't send me out in the bush, Where natives are restless at night. I'll see that the money is gathered, I'll see that the money is sent
I'll wash and stack the communion cups, I'll tithe 11 percent
I'll volunteer for the nursery, I'll go on the youth retreat
I'll usher, I'll deacon, I'll go door to door, if I can keep warming this seat.
Rick Warren writes “Here’s the amazing thing. In America it’s ok to be passionate about anything except God. It’s not politically correct -- to be passionate about God. I can be passionate about movies. I can be passionate about sports. I can be passionate about politics. I can be passionate about fashions and clothes. I can be passionate about restaurants (and some of us really are). But I cannot be passionate about God. That’s a no-no.”
Paul asks the church an important question concerning what we should be passionate about…. followed by a powerful conclusion….
1 Corinthians 12:29 “Is everyone an apostle? Is everyone a prophet? Is everyone a teacher? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in languages they had not known before? Do all explain what is said in those languages? 31 But above all, you should want the more important gifts. But now I will show you the best way of all”.
I’ve got to ask, after all that we have seen here, what could be the more important gifts? Jesus gives this truth to us….
He has been debating with the religious leaders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees and in this atmosphere, a scribe speaks up. This scribe had dedicated his life to manually copying the scriptures. Then he would count the letters on the page to ensure he copied it correctly. He had more than likely spent years reading, writing and memorizing the Holy Scriptures. But you see, knowing the scriptures and understanding them are two different things. Understanding them, THEN applying them to your life is yet another thing.
So, this scribe knew the scriptures, but wanted understanding. He asks Jesus in Luke 10:26 “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?” v27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” v28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus said. “Do this and you will live (spiritually).”
We can be physically alive and spiritually dead.
To embrace Christ, is to embrace spiritual life. To embrace Christ is to embrace abundant life! To embrace Christ is to embrace full life! When we read the scriptures with the desire to apply it in our lives, we will read a lot slower… and we will read intentionally….that we may understand and apply it….
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new”!
We cannot say we love the Lord, and not obey Him. We cannot say we love the Lord and not trust Him, we cannot say we love the Lord and not love one another. Jesus said if you hate others, you don’t love me, because if you love me you will love others. He let’s us know that while we can hate sin, we must love the sinner!
When I was a Kid, we had a snake crawl into our well and die. The water started tasting really bad, (I shudder thinking about it)…so we pulled the cover off of the well, and there it was, tainting our water source. Well they let someone down into the well on a rope and pulled it out, and then treated the well for about 3 weeks, until the water was drinkable again.
Is anything in your well that the Lord is trying to remove if you would just let Him….. that might cause the well to be unattractive to someone who is thirsty and is looking to you at their point of need?
We have to protect our well, and guard it from anything that would cause the water to be bitter and undrinkable. Jesus said we should be the source of His living water….And remember, He said that it should be springing up! That means it should be visible and available….
You may remember the college students who smeared limburger cheese under the nose of a fellow student. He woke up and said, PEWWW, this room stinks. He walked out in the hall, and said THE HALL STINKS. He went out in the yard, and yelled, THE WHOLE WORLD STINKS!
Well, sometimes it’s not our family, our marriage, our job, our neighbors or our fellow Christians that stink…. It’s the bitterness, and hurt, and resentment in us that is doing all the stinking…
When we fail to let God rule in the center of our lives, life stinks!!!
Let me suggest that we might use Dr. Gary Chapman’s research on the five love languages as a good tool in growing in our passion about the King of our hearts .
He begins with “Words of Affirmation”… Jesus said the same… He said when we pray, we say “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name..” Do we spend time talking to Him about how awesome and loving He is, and maybe thanking Him for the good stuff, even when you’re going through the rough stuff. The Psalms of David reveal the frustrations of someone who loves God passionately, doesn’t always understand Him, and yet trusts Him, even in the midst of some really horrible stuff going on in his life. David wrote Psalm 3, when he was on the run from his own son. Absalom was taking over the kingdom, and his advisors told him that as long as his dad was alive, he’d never really be the king. Can you imagine the pain and heartache of having his own son trying to kill him?
Psalm 3:1 “O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2 Many are saying of me, "God will not deliver him." 3 But You are a shield around me, O Lord; You bestow glory on me and lift up my head. 4 Unto the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill. 5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. 6 I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. 7 Arise, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! 8 From the Lord comes deliverance. May Your blessing be on Your people”.
The bottom line in David’s prayer is that God is there, present as king and ruler, no matter the circumstance.
2. Quality Time is the second love language. This means you may need to delay and put aside other things to give that time to Him. First things first…and all the other things will work out. Isn’t that what it says in 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”.
I recall that President Kennedy, left instructions with his aids, his secretary, and his security personnel, that no matter who he was meeting with, kings, ambassadors, rulers, or whoever, if his son John, John, came to see him, let him in. Often great men of authority would be interrupted as John, John entered, and climbed up in his father’s lap, to spend time with his dad. God always has time for you!
3. Receiving Gifts is the third love language. I know it’s well worn, but I’ll say it anyway…
We must give the gifts we have received back to God before they can truly be anointed and effective for the kingdom. We do that by using what we have for enlarging His kingdom in the earth. If we look at every gift we have as something God allows to pass through us as a blessing to others, then He gets all the glory….Each day, let us give our gifts back to Him to bless and multiply…
4. Acts of Service. Is the fourth love language. Real love is not an emotion, it is an action which flows out of trust. Jesus asked the question, “How can you call me your Lord, and don’t do what I tell you.”
Matthew 5:16 –“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Many folks may not hear your gospel, but they will hear your acts love and service, with no other agenda but to serve, in Jesus’ name….
Hospitals, shut-ins, transportation, and visits of encouragement are always available means of this love language…
5. Physical touch is the fifth love language. Winnie needs her hugs and kisses… (Come on ladies, am I right) It’s the power of touch. If someone gets here and they haven’t had a hug, or no one has told them “I love you”… then this should be the place where they receive reinforcement, and the Love of Jesus.
Jesus said “As you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me.”… Paul tells us that Jesus is the head of the church which is his body. A two headed person is in for some trouble. We come under the headship of Christ. How powerful is it to let our hands be His hands, our feet be His feet, our voice to be His voice and our touch to be His touch. Lay hands on the sick and they shall recover… receive one another in the love of Christ.
Information alone doesn’t transform cities. Conferences alone can’t transform a city! Education alone can’t transform a city! Having citywide ministry programs or large networks alone cannot transform a city. Only the presence of Jesus can bring transformation, and only individual people willing to cry out for His presence can become the kindling for God’s fire to ignite in lives. Hallelujah, Jehovah Shammah, His Presence Is Here is what makes the difference!!!
Take a moment right now and find someone and give them a Jesus hug, and tell them, “Jesus loves you and I love you”!
Prayer… Father, I pray that You will visit us, and make Your presence known in our lives and in our city. Give us faith to believe that You can change this city through prayer and through acts of love and compassion. Let Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to cultivate Your presence in our lives. We choose to partner with You for transformation. Remove the distractions in our lives that keep us from Your presence.
Lord we repent of any pride or personal idols that have taken us away from giving you first place and preventing us from being more like You. Take away any luke-warmness in our hearts and set us on fire for You. I thank You for the new spiritual identity and authority as I pray, obey, and reach out to others. Remove any compromise and complacency in my life. I want to bring light into the darkness and carrying Your presence wherever I go.
Lord, I want to know You more. “Blessed are those who have learned to honor you, who walk in the light of your presence” Give me joy in Your presence and help me to bring joy into the lives of others.. I pray Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple… " In Jesus’ name, amen.
We’re going to close with body ministry, that’s when the church reaches out to one another in prayer and petition… Get with someone in these closing moments and go before the Father in their behalf….
Let each other know what you would like them to agree with you on…If any two or three shall agree, it shall be done….