Thursday, December 1, 2016

SUSTAINING GRACE


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about God’s sustaining grace in my life.  I am amazed, overwhelmed by the fact that God has brought me through so much in my life - that I’m still standing to proclaim the faithfulness of God.

It is interesting - To be an Olympic athlete you need three things going for you. You need: speed, skill and most important of all, you have to have endurance. If you don’t make it to the end of the race, you’re not going to win a medal.

The Bible tells us that God always finishes what He starts. In the book of Philippians it says:

“I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (HCSB)

What does that mean?

It means if you have really given your life to Jesus Christ – if you’ve opened yourself up to God and said, "Christ, be number one in my life - be Lord of my life" – you are going to make all the way to heaven. There’s no doubt about it. Case closed! Done deal! Finished product! You are going to make it across the finish line. Because the race does not depend upon your performance – it depends upon God’s Sustaining Grace.

One question that is important, however, is: “How well do you finish the race?” You know as well as I do that some people finish a race in very poor shape – while others finish the race well. 

In 1992, following five operations, British runner Derek Redman was hoping to win gold at the Barcelona Olympics. Everything seemed to be going well for the 400 meter race. He had recorded the fastest time in the quarter-final heat. He was pumped up – ready to go. As the gun sounded he got off to a clean start. But at 150 meters – his right hamstring muscle tore and he fell to the ground. When he saw the stretcher-bearers rushing towards him he jumped up and began hobbling toward the finish line. Despite his pain he continued to move forward. Soon another person joined him on the track. It was his father. Arm in arm – hand in hand – they moved toward the finish-line together. Just before the finish line – Derek’s dad let go of his son – so that Derek could finish the race on his own. The crowd of 65,000 stood to their feet cheering and clapping as Derek finished the race. Heartbreaking – yes! Encouraging – yes! Emotional - yes! We need to finish the race – and finish it well.

God who began a good work in you – wants you to finish the race. He wants you to endure. He wants you to be successful. He wants you to finish and finish well. God does not leave you to run the race alone but He gives you His Sustaining Grace.

What is God’s Sustaining Grace?

God’s Sustaining Grace is the power to keep you going even when you feel like giving up. Do you ever feel like throwing in the towel? Do you feel like quitting? Do you ever say, “I’ve had enough.” God’s Sustaining Grace is the power that helps you endure even when you don’t think you can. 

Here is a secret that I have learned: Life is a marathon – it is not a sprint. There are valleys and there are mountains. There are bad times and there are good times and there are times when we could all use God’s Sustaining Grace to keep on – keeping on. 

God’s Sustaining Grace is the power that God gives to keep you going. You may not realize this - but the moment you become a believer – the battle begins. 

The Devil would enjoy nothing more than to see you stumble – to see you fail - to see you fall. When you become a believer you are no longer Satan’s property – you are no long on his side – but he wants to get you back. He does not want you to succeed. He is looking for every opportunity to pounce on you. 

God sustains you when you are tempted.

God sustains you when you are tired.

God sustains you when you are troubled.

“Mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7 (HCSB)

In other words – troubles are common. You should expect troubles in your life. You should not be surprised when they come your way. You are going to have difficulties – you are going to have obstacles. You will have situations that are out of your control. 

You will have situations that you just cannot handle. It is at times like these that we need God’s Sustaining Grace.

I have found that there are three kinds of trouble in this world. There is the kind that blows you away like a tornado. There is the kind that weighs you down like a sack of potatoes. Then there is the kind of trouble that pulls the rug out from under you. 

But no matter what type of trouble you run into – God will give you His Sustaining Grace.

Most of us can handle problems if we have hope – if we can see an end in sight – if we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. If we can see that there is power to get through the problem – we can handle it. Hope is powerful. The Bible tells us:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Folks this is a statement of hope. This is a promise that all believers can rely upon. No matter what comes my way - "I can do all things through Christ" because He "strengthens me". God gives His children sustaining grace to make it through all situations - through all circumstances - through all things. In the Old Testament it says:

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

How do I plug into God’s Sustaining Grace? You do three things:

1. ASK for God’s Sustaining Grace

How do you ask? You ask through prayer. Pray to God. Pray earnestly. Pray fervently. Pray passionately. Pray with integrity. Pray with emotion. Ask God for His Sustaining Grace. He loves to hear the prayers of His children. The Bible tells us:

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 (NKJV)

God gives His children the best - ask for it.

2. STUDY God’s word 

God’s word is to help guide us and direct us through good times and through bad. In Psalm one hundred nineteen we find:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” Psalms 119:105 (NKJV)

When we need guidance it is always good to turn to God’s Word. Let the Bible comfort you. Let the Bible strengthen you. Let the Bible fill you. Let the Bible soothe you. Think on God’s word. Place scriptures in your mind – think about them – meditate on them. They can be a great help when you are dealing with the stressors of life.

3. RELY on God’s promises

Did you know that there are over 7000 promises in the Bible waiting to be claimed? Here is one of them:

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 (NKJV)

God wants His children to be successful. He wants us to over-come this world. He wants us to rely on His strength and His promises. God gives us all kinds of promises in His word – but it does no good unless we rely upon them. 

We must trust in the Lord – we must put our faith into action – we must rely upon the fact that His promises are true. Put your hope in the Lord. Keep your eyes focused on the hope of heaven. 

Let me ask you a question: “Where do you need God’s Sustaining Grace today? Where are you discouraged and you feel like giving up? Are you being tempted? Are you tired? Are you troubled? Are you at the end on your rope?” Then let me tell you that God offers His Sustaining Grace to you.

A long time ago a man by the name of Paul felt that he was at the end of his rope. He had something going on in his life that he did not like and he begged the Lord three times to take it away from him. Do you know what the Lord said when He answered Paul? The Lord said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

Do you know what happened? Paul found that the Lord spoke the truth – God’s Sustaining Grace was all he needed. God’s grace - got him through.

How about you? Do you need God’s Sustaining Grace?

(Drawn from a sermon by Rick Warren)





Monday, November 21, 2016

JUST "GO"


“Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing...‭Acts‬ ‭11:12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

As a child growing up I have always been challenged with the idea of taking risks in life - that there is no mountain too high or any obstacle too big.  My parents instilled into my siblings and I to always follow God’s Spirit no matter where it would take us.

So, here I sit in a cafe in Costa Rica thinking, reflecting, feeling blessed that I have always followed my dreams and have left nothing on the table.  I have laid it all out there and have followed God’s leading which has taken me around the world and has allowed me to pastor many wonderful people in my journey of life.

I like the saying that “the journey is the destination.”  It is that feeling of being blessed and content no matter where I am or what I am doing.

I have to admit that there were times when I was waiting for my ship to come in or for my lucky break or for my next assignment.  To be honest - this is a frustrating place to be.  It is not the way God intended for any of us to live our lives.

I have taken many teams to many countries around the world, and often (this present team is an exception - they are awesome happy servants of Jesus) people start complaining about the food, or not being what they are used to, the beds being too hard, the pace too much, the weather too hot, etc.  

I always try to encourage everyone who comes with me to enjoy the journey, to experience the blessings of being in another country, to make themselves available to hear God and allow Him to make some needed alignments in their life.  I encourage them to ask God to help you see the world as He sees it and for God to increase your love for people.

In the classic novel: “Alice in Wonderland,” Alice comes to a fork in the road. One path leads one way, and the other path leads the other… and she asks the Cheshire Cat for advice:

“Would you tell me please,” she asks “which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the cat.

“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

There are a lot of people who (just like Alice) don’t seem to know where they’re going. They just kind of drift thru life. For all intents and purposes it looks like they’re not going anywhere… and they are not really doing all that much with their lives.

But if you were to ask them, I think most would say they really want to do more with their lives. They’d like to believe that there’s more to living than just “getting by”. They’d like to believe they have a reason to live.

And, you know, that’s natural, because God has built that yearning into our hearts.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…”

He has set the belief (in your heart and in mine) that there’s more to life than just “living”.  It’s like He’s created this big hole inside of us… this feeling that we’re meant for more than just surviving in this life.

But many people aren’t quite sure what their purpose in life might be. 

The problem for most people is they don’t know where they’re going and they’re not sure they ever will. 

Dan Baker, a Medical psychologist and the author of “What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life For the Better”...
He interviewed 1000s of people in the US who were age 100 and better and he discovered:

“What these folks have in common is a general sense of optimism, an ability to deal well with loss” In great part because of their spiritual beliefs eased emotional burdens. 

These were people that had learned that the LORD was their shepherd. That He would never leave them. Never forsake them.

But there is a catch: There is something that we must do in order to have this kind of assurance in our lives. There is something we 
must be willing to commit to in order to have God as our shepherd. 

We’ve got to let God BE the shepherd. We’ve got to be willing to let Him take over.

We’ve got to follow the Spirit without doubting.  We need to walk by faith and just go.

That’s not easy for many people. In fact while there are plenty of people who say they would like to serve God – they only want to do so in an advisory capacity.

In other words… they don’t want God to be the shepherd. They don’t want God taking over the direction of their lives.

WHY? Because God might not get it right… He just might mess it up. 

We walk with a lot of fear and as a result we never step out of our comfort zone.

One of my favorite stories is about a famous actor was once the guest of honor at a social gathering where he received many requests to recite favorite excerpts from various literary works. 

An old preacher was amongst the audience and he asked the actor to recite the twenty-third Psalm. The actor agreed on the condition that the preacher would also recite it as well.

The actor stood and began to recite the famous Psalm and it was everything you could expect from a polished thespian. The phrases were elegant, his voice rose and fell to give each thought it’s proper emphasis. And when he finished, the crowd broke into a lengthy applause.

Then the old preacher rose. His voice was rough and broken from many years of preaching, and his diction was anything but polished. But when he finished there was not a dry eye in the room. 

Later, when someone asked the actor what made the difference, he replied "I know the psalm… but he knows the Shepherd."

If you really know “The Shepherd” today you will not fear about where and when God puts the “go” into your life.

Lay it  all out there today and just “go” - doubting nothing. You will be glad you did.

Monday, November 14, 2016

EYES WIDE OPEN


“Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.” Luke‬ ‭24:30-31‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I was in a meeting yesterday with those going with me to Costa Rica this week when someone mentioned where they are with the Lord right now.  They simply said, “I am in a place where I need to listen to what God is saying to me.”

It was like a light bulb went off in my heart saying “That’s where you need to be also.”

Do you ever have times like that when God just opens your eyes to some thought or action that needs to be done in your life?  I think all of can relate to this is one way or another.

Our scripture today describes an incident where a couple of people were walking home to the village of Emmaus. The Crucifixion was a few days ago. We don’t know if it was two men or a man and a son or perhaps a man and wife. We do know one was named Cleopas, a man’s name. It tells us they were discussing all that happened, when Jesus joins them. It adds that they were kept from recognizing Jesus.

Have you ever wondered why they were kept from recognizing him? Why would Jesus want to keep his identity from these believers? Perhaps we guess that it was to be a teaching experience. He wanted to teach the scriptures and not have them distracted by that amazing fact that he was alive.

I have a fear that Jesus or an angel or some other divine messenger will come to me and I will fail to recognize them. If I miss it, I hope that the identity was hidden from me and it is not just my lack of vision or closed minded nature that keeps me from noticing.

Jesus asked, what are you discussing? And they stop and look depressed and ask Jesus if he is just passing through and not heard all the news…

What news?

They tell him about Jesus of Nazareth, how great a prophet he was, and how the authorities had arranged his death. They also express that they had thought he was to be the one who redeemed Israel. Then they shared how the women found an empty tomb and others verified it.

Jesus calls them foolish because they don’t understand or expect the descriptions of the messiah to come true in their hearts. And then over the next few miles he explains from Moses through the prophets and how they relate to Jesus the Christ.

Jesus reminds them about the scripture related to the prophecies of the Messiah. If Jesus was recognized or revealed who he was he would have been explaining scriptures with his personal authority. He would have been speaking as the son of God, which would be pretty powerful.

However, he did not let them know who he was.

These two believers were probably not too different from any of us. They were in a time when God did not make sense. They probably wanted to scream questions at the top of their lungs. Why did this happen God? How could you do this to such a good Man? What are we going to do now?

I would say that these people were at one of the lowest points in their lives. Just days ago they were on a mountaintop and now they are in the darkest of valleys. 

I thinks it is safe to think that most of us have had questions for God, that we wondered why me, or us? Wondered why this good person suffered so much or died so young. 

I imagine there have been times when we gave up and headed the wrong way until something, or someone came alongside to redirect us.

We all are all traveling down life’s road. Depending on where we are sometimes our hopes and dreams are broken and prayers are unanswered. When it seems the worst Jesus comes along and joins us where we are. We walks beside us and encourages us and he never leaves us alone.

I don’t know about you, but I often don’t recognize him and his actions until I have reached the end of my trip.

Our travelers reach their destination and Jesus keeps heading down the road. They invite him to come and stay with them.

Jesus never presumes that he is invited into your life. He does not act as if he expects an invitation; he never hints or asks to be invited. He only enters your life if you freely invite him.

The travelers basically insist that Jesus join them. And he readily agrees. You never have to ask Jesus to enter your life twice for him to respond.

The light meal is quickly prepared and they sit down for dinner.

Vs. 30 says, " When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight."

All this time they had been with Jesus, looking at Him, but never seeing Him. Now suddenly, as they eat together, their eyes were opened and they actually saw Him for who He was.

After He left, it says that they asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

We sang a song yesterday in church with these lyrics -

So set a fire down in my soul
That I can't contain and I can't control
I want more of You God, I want more of You God!
There's no place I'd rather be
There's no place I'd rather be
There's no place I'd rather be
Than here in your love, here in your love

I watched as the words resonated with those singing them.  We sang the song well and we captured the moment and prayed that God would help us to want more of Him.

I’m sure that for some that their eyes were opened but to be honest - for many, it was just another song.

As I’m pondering about this passage this morning - I have a prayer resonating in my spirit - “I want to know you more.”  “I want my eyes to be opened.”  “I want to hear God and be one with Him.”

It’s interesting - our church staff met this last week to plan out 2017.  Our theme is going to be “EYES WIDE OPEN.”  This message has been resonating with me since then and I truly can say that my heart is wide open for whatever God wants to do in and through me.

How about you?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

WHEN WILL CHRIST RETURN?


“Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—” ‭Mark‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

A film crew was on location deep in the desert. One day an old Indian went up to the director and said, Tomorrow rain...... The next day it rained. 

A week later, the Indian went up to the director and said, Tomorrow storm The next day there was a hailstorm. 

This Indian is incredible,said the director. 

He told his secretary to hire the Indian to predict the weather for the remainder of the shoot.

However, after several successful predictions, the old Indian did not show up for two weeks. 

Finally the director sent for him. I have to shoot a big scene tomorrow, said the director, and I am depending on you. What will the weather be like?

The Indian shrugged his shoulders. Do not know, he said........My radio is broken

Appearances are deceiving. 

When I was younger, I remember hearing a deluge of sermons about the last days and how Jesus is going to return soon.  Those preaching and the people listening actually believed that the second coming of Christ would be within their lifetime.

I have to admit, so was I.  I also had an anticipation of the imminent return of Christ.

It’s not that the message died - it just became “ho-hum” in that Christ did not come in their lifetime.

But if you look through history - it seems like every generation was looking to the return of Christ at some point or another - some generations were more extreme than others.

But here we are - 2016 and we are still waiting for the return of Christ.

I’ve heard many teachers who try to place a date of His return but they all have fallen short because the Bible says “no man knows the hour” (not even the Angels).

Nobody really knows when Christ will be returning - but we need to keep watch - always.  We can never let our guard down.

So… How Do We Prepare For The Return Of Christ…

1. Don’t let him find you sleeping

Jesus said, you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.

 All four of these times have something in common - they are all times that we are sleeping or want to sleep. 

Jesus is warning his disciples to be alert and self controlled when he tells them not to sleep (spiritually).  Even though Christ has not returned yet - we must not lose our spiritual edge. We must keep watching for His return.

2. Do your assigned task

Jesus said, It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. 

Jesus said that “each one has his assigned task.” He draws a picture of a rich landowner with many different duties that need to be done. One might need to mow the lawn, another water the plants, another vacuum the rug, and on and on. Each duty is different. Yet each is important. That’s how God wants you to regard yourself - you have an “assigned task.” 

What has God called you to do.  Whatever it is - do it with all your heart.

I remember my dad often saying that he thought Christ was going to return during his lifetime. To be honest, I was a little disappointed when He didn't return at that time.

Yet, I still live my life as if Christ could return today.  It could happen in my lifetime - I really believe that.  We live in a very crazy world right now - wars, corruption, politics, etc.  

Christ said that when we see these things to look up for “our redemption draweth nigh.”

It could be tonight, tomorrow or the next day.  We don’t know. But whenever it is - I choose to remain waiting and ready!

How about you?










Monday, October 31, 2016

THE CUP OF SORROW


“But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.”” Matthew‬ ‭20:22‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This is a very fascinating story about a mother’s desire for her sons to sit on each side of Jesus in His future kingdom.  It was just a mom looking out for her sons wanting them to be remembered in greatness.

But as this story unfolds we find that Jesus asks the brothers if they really are willing to drink from the bitter cup that He was drinking.

It’s a question we must all ask ourselves.  Are we willing to drink from the cup Jesus drank from?  What does that mean?

This cup was a bitter cup filled with much heartache and much sorrow.  It was a cup that would, for the sake of the Father, eventually end in death.

Jesus was in such anguish while praying right before his betrayal and arrest, that His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. He prayed, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. yet not my will, but yours be done.”

He was praying in agony in sorrow knowing the hour that He was facing. The season of His very mission and purpose, and very creation had arrived and He was petrified. He was born and raised to teach, heal but most importantly to be delivered to butchers to be slain as a lamb. 

I often wonder the reason of His fear. Was it because He knew of the brutal physical pain He would have to endure? The heartbreak of all those He loved betray Him? Was it because He did not want His mother witness His torture? Was it because He was afraid that He would give in and not see it through and make it all the way to the cross? Was it all the above?

I find myself just as many of us do facing a cup of sorrow that we beg God to pass from us. Whether it be heartbreak, betrayal, divorce, death of a loved one, a long brutal battle of an illness, depression, addiction or maybe even like Jesus, coming face to face with your mission. 

Many times our purpose is directly tied to sorrow. We may have had to go through many seasons of sorrow in order to become humble enough to hear the voice of God, and listen for His instructions. We may be going through a molding and shaping, creating a masterpiece of an empathetic heart enabling us to look in the eyes of the broken and help them out of the darkness. Then maybe for some of us, our sole purpose may be as Jesus. The suffering of one brings deliverance to many.

Imagine having a child that was addicted to crack cocaine or involved in an abusive relationship for many years. You witness firsthand the decay, deterioration and slow downward spiral as you look at this soul that you love so much and no longer recognize. Something evil has a hold of them. You gave birth to this child, held them close in your arms and witnessed every stage of his/her life. Then evil comes and sweeps your loved one away and the harder that you reach, the deeper they go. Imagine. 

Finally they are reaching for your hand and crying, “Please, help me. I need you! You grab them, and the two of you are united and the light within them that you once saw is becoming brighter with each passing day. This is how God feels about one single person who has come back to Him. This is why the gospel is so vital in a fallen world. It’s the celebration of a lost and wandering child, finally making it home.

The bitter cup has been passed to us. Christ drank His cup for us, now we much drink our cup for our lives and for our family.

We have to go in the trenches and tell the lost that there is a hand waiting there to pull them out. Many times, going in the trenches you will face sorrow, ugly things, vile things, horrible things. 

People are swimming in the same vomit that you were delivered from. But in that sea of sorrow, if one single soul is saved, God will look you in the eyes and say, “Well done, my child. Well done.”

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:7

May God strengthen you as you willingly drink from the cup of sorrow over those whom God has placed in your life to love and pray for.

Don’t ever give up!

Friday, October 28, 2016

DEAD MEN WALKING


Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” ‭John‬ ‭11:38-39, 44‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

To me, this is one of the most fascinating passages in the Bible.  First, because someone who had been dead for four days has come back to life, and second, because of what Jesus asked His disciples to do after Lazarus comes back to life: to have the ministry of unwrapping his grave cloths off his body.

Can you imagine being in this story.  The awe and amazement you would have experienced?  It gives me chills to even think about it.

"By this time he stinketh" (KJV). By the fourth day, the person was well and truly dead; decomposition had set in. 

After Jesus prays, Jesus speaks a word of command to the dead man and this walking corpse  comes walking out still bound in his grave cloths.

Imagine the scene, this smelly corpse wrapped in white linen, shuffles and stumbles out of the tomb, hobbled, blind -- his face wrapped with a cloth and his hands still tied to his sides by grave wraps. It almost sounds like a horror movie! 

The crowd is stunned, afraid. No one makes a move to help him. So Jesus has to command them to come forward and assist him: "Unbind him and let him go!"

Finally, some people come forward tentatively to help him. One removes the cloth covering his face. Someone else begins to unwind the linen that has been wrapped around him. And as they do so, this resurrected man appears alive and well. 

Where there was once inconsolable grief that gave way to fear, now joy and excitement overtakes the crowd. They begin to embrace Lazarus and laugh, leading him back into the town where he is reunited with the rest of his friends. It makes you want to give praise to God Almighty.

In a way, this is my job description in life. As a pastor, it is my responsibility to remove the grave cloths of people who come to me smelling like death.  They hobble in and hear the message of Christ and come back to life.  It is then that the real work begins - the job of coming alongside of Christ to help them get cleaned up and free of their grave cloths.

And, to be honest, this is the assignment that many of us have also - to come alongside those who were dying and or dead and be a loving hand to remove their 
“Grave Cloths.”

I look back on the many people who helped take my stinky grave clothes off my own life - the Sunday School teachers, the youth leaders, the pastors and most of all my parents.

I am thankful for those who lovingly stayed with me and loved me through some very ugly and sinful moments and seasons in my life - for being willing to pull those grave clothes off my life and be instruments of setting me free.

I am a very blessed and thankful man who now embraces the assignment of God to help others become free also.  I am blessed indeed!

What about you?  Do you remember who God used to bring healing and freedom to your life?  And, are you now helping others fo find the same freedom that you have found?

That’s something to think about today!

Monday, October 17, 2016

HOW TO LIVE IN CONFIDENCE IN A WORLD FILLED WITH FEAR


So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” John 6:19‭-‬20 NKJV

I talk to a lot of people who live their lives in fear for so many things.  People are afraid of people, of the dark, of heights, of germs, of animals, of certain foods, etc.  The list could go on and on.

This is not the spirit of Jesus because he has said over and over to us to not be afraid and to not worry about life.

Look at these verses that deal with fear in the Bible:

But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:26 NKJV

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Mt 14:27 NKJV

But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” Mt 17:7 NKJV

As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” Mark 5:36 NKJV

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 NKJV

Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yah , the Lord , is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ ” Isaiah 12:2 NKJV

These and other scriptures remind us that  Jesus with me, and He has all the power.

God is not just the God of the top; He is also the God of the bottom. He has not lost control and He is totally in charge.

Someone once said, "Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due."  We worry and fret about so many things when God has given us the power and the authority to overcome fear and worry.

I've learned over the years God responds to courage that is demonstrated in the midst of fear.  He  comes alongside us and gives us the strength we need to make it through whatever  is paralzying and holding us back.

God is your refuge from fear. 

The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. 
2 Samuel 22:3 NKJV

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

Christ will restore back to you everything you lost as a result of sin’s power in your life.

With God, there is no boundaries, just possibilities.  He will loosen the lines of boundary in your life and open up a world of possibility so that you can walk freely without fear of today or tomorrow.

We are His kids and He's waiting and wanting to rescue and deliver us from fear.  We live under the shadow of the Almighty.

Through God we will do valiantly, For it  is He who shall tread down our enemies. Ps 60:12 NKJV

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, Ro 8:37‭-‬38 NKJV

You don't need to be afraid of tomorrow because God will take care of every need you might have right now and tomorrow.

Oh, fear the Lord , you His saints! There  is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. Ps 34:9‭-‬10 NKJV

God is Master in times of disaster.  Your overwhelming need right now is in the palm of His hands.  God's got this!

I have been young and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging for bread. Psalm 37:25

I've been around for a lot of years.  I've seen just about every thing there is to see.  I've been in more difficult and ugly and tight situations than you can imagine. 

Yet... 

"I've never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging for bread."

God has always brought me through and has calmed every fear.  The world may rise and fall but God is still in charge.

Here is one of my favorite verses -  I've memoriezed it and I've tried to live it truths in my day by day life.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

May God give you peace, love and sound mind today.

"Be not afraid..."