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Sermon of the Week 
Sunday, January 07 2018

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 *… 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’. 

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