Description Have you ever been in a really bad situation? Today we are going to look at Peter and his miraculous escape from prison in Acts 12. Another passage that is a great outline for Acts 12 is 1 Peter 3:12 "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." Let's take a look.
First of all, God sees our trials.Understand the sovereignty of God. He is in control of all events and circumstances. He is still on the throne. So keep your eyes on the Lord.
Next, God hears our prayers. Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying for him. Prayer is the turning point. The night before his trial, he was sleeping soundly. An angel struck him to wake him up. What gave Peter peace in the midst of this terrible plight? He knew believers were praying. His faith in God and the knowledge that Herod could not kill him. In John 21 Jesus promised Peter that he would live to an old age and end his live crucified on a cross. God's will is always for our best and for His glory. Have rest and peace with the knowledge that God is in control of your life.
Now in contrast, the Jerusalem church was praying, but was it really in faith believing? In the passage we read that Peter was miraculously delivered from prison. Here's the scene: Believers were praying earnestly. Peter knocks at the door saying, "Rhoda, it's me, Peter." Rhoda doesn't open the door, but runs to tell everyone, "Hey Peter is at the door." Their response, "Have you lost your mind? Peter is in jail. Maybe it's his angel." They couldn't believe God had actually answered their prayer. It was Peter and they were astonished. Often we pray the same way. Pray in fatih - expecting God to answer.
Finally, God deals with our enemies. God is the judge. God is in control. In the passage we see Herod did not give praise to God and he was struck down. You can trust God will do what is right.
Two questions for you: How are you handling your problems? Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Are you praying?
Description The life lesson and advice King Lemuel's mother told him: "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Speak up. In other words, take action in defense of others. Who are we to speak up for? Those who cannot speak for themselves. All who are destitute. The poor and the needy.
What should we do based on what we are reading? This charge in Proverbs 31:8-9 is not just found here, but in numberous places throughout Scripture: Proverbs 24:11-12, Isaiah 1:17, Micah 6:8, Zechariah 7:10, Matthew 23:23, Titus 3:14, Hebrews 3:1-3. We need to act. Do. Write letters. Give time. Send cards. Give money. Fire off emails. Speak words. Pray.
You may ask, "Why should I do any of this?" It is simple. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus spoke up for us with His life when we could not speak for ourselves. We were destitute and spiritually poor. God in His vast love is our motivation to speak up and act in defense of others.
Description The text in James is an encouragement to every believer.Let's look at five circumstances and the ways we have to overcome them. When the Heat is on: Guard your Tongue The Jews believe that when you say a word it keeps on speaking throughout time. Our word should be our bond. People should be able to count on us. Guard your tongue!
When You're Sick: PrayPersonal Prayer. Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. When in great emotional, mental and spiritual anguish, we should cry out to God. Notice it says "let him pray." God doesn't promise relief, but implies a promise of strength to endure the suffering. Corporate Prayer. The sick and distressed person is to call upon the elders of the church. Oil was widely used for medicinal purposes. It is also a representation of the Holy Spirit. We pray believing god; not based on what He does, but Who He is.
When You're Happy: Praise We should never feel guilty because we are blessed. We should praise god in good times and what seems like bad times.
When You Sin: Confess and Pray Confess to one another. Confess means to agree with. The church is a hospital for sinners helping to cure one another. Carry one another's burdens. Pray for one another's healing-physical and spiritual. It is a privilege. God is able to to immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine.
When They Fall Away: Find Them If one of you should wander from the truth, bring them back. The word wander means to err or slip away. People need to know that we love them and care about them.Be prepared in season and out to correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.
Overcome whatever circumstance by trusting Jesus to help you through it.
Description Foreigners and Strangers Can Never Be Family The Apostle Paul talks about the bond that's formed through the cross. Through Jesus we have access to the Father by One Spirit. Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone for the house of God. Church is a family of people joined together in worship and in life. Unless we open our hearts and lives to new people, they will always stay foreigners and strangers. In Acts, we see the early church was a family committed to loving Jesus and others so their neighbors, community and world could experience the good news. A church ceases to function as a family when it forgets this mission. If we close our heart to foreigners and strangers, they can never become part of the family of God. Never stop believing that God can transform us.
God's House Is A Continuous Building Project The family of God is composed of living stones. Jesus is the foundation-perfect, solid, crack-free. Ephesians says in God Him we are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to build a temple of unity and praise. We have many more reasons to honor one another than to dishonor one another: Same Father, same Savior, same Spirit within, same destiny when life is over. We are one church, one family.
Description The first step to embracing the new thing God wants to do in your life is to change your focus. Quit looking behind and start looking ahead. You cannot depend on past victories to sustain you. What is God doing in your life right now? Don't allow past failures to possess you. God gives an opportunity to start over. Don't live on yesterday's faith. The children of Israel needed new faith and vision for what God could do. So do we.
Next, clarify your focus. Discover what God wants for you. To do this you must see yourself as God sees you. In God, your life can become a stream of life. See your possibilities as God sees them. God is able to transform the desert areas of your life into fields of blessing.
Finally, commit yourself to God's plan. God has already set in motion a new direction and purpose for your life. Will you follow Him?
Description What do you want? It's quite a question. George Bernard Shaw said, "There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it." One of the signs of our times is misplaced priorities. If our priorities are wrong, what we desire can hurt us. We need to understand what is important to God and evaluate our priorities in light of His priorities for us.
In Matthew 20:32-34 we see Christ's penetrating insight. Jesus is revealing to His disciples the details concerning His crucifixion. He was determined and resolute, even though He knew it would mean certain death.Where did Jesus get this detail? From Scripture, He understood from a supernatural point of view.
It's amazing to see the disciples' personal interests displayed on the heels of Jesus' revelation. They were blind and responded selfishly. They missed the point. Jesus said, "What do you want?" In their response we see basically three things: Prominence, proximity, and power. They were preoccupied with self and didn't understand the implications of their own desires. The cup to which Jesus referred was a common symbol of what life hands you. When He spoke of baptism, He was speaking of being placed into something. Be careful what you ask of God. Jesus stepped in to redirect the disciples' personal interest. Know the wisdom of the world is not the wisdom of God. The path to greatness is service. We must live our lives by the principle of service and sacrifice. Be asking ourselves, "What does God want and what do others need."
What comes next in this section of Scripture is the story of blind Bartimaeus. Mark skips over a number of events to this story which is a pertinent illustration of the disciples' distorted desires. There is an underscoring of Bartimaeus' name, which means "son of honor". Previously James and John were asking for positions of honor. Jesus asks Bartimaeus the same question he asked the disciples, "What do you want?" His response was far different than the disciples. He wanted to see. The symbolic application: Bartimaeus was blind and knew it. The disciples were blind, but didn't know it. Ask God to open our eyes to see the implications of our desires.
Pray this prayer: "Lord I want to regain my sight. I want to see through Your eyes. I want to understand what's really important to you. Lord help me see."
Description FIrst, a few Reminders. We all have access the the Holy Spirit the moment we become a believer. The Holy Spirit was given to believers. Everyone has a unique experience. God does things the way He chooses. When we came to Christ, He gave His Spirit to us. Salvation is the starting point when we are saved by grace. Sanctification is the next and continual process of spiritual growth. Yield to the Holy Spirit. Allow the indwelling. Yielding acknowledges we are not our own. God's Presence is now the everyday experience of every believer! Next time you struggle with sin, remember that you have God's Spirit living inside you. Allow the Spirit to lead. The Holy Spirit is readily available to help us discern, and provide wisdom and guidance. Allow the Spirit to move. It is only by yielding to this power that we will overcome problems of sin and habit. Yielding to the Holy Spirit must be a daily, repeated process, like breathing. The Result of Yielding. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the the same Spirit is the source of them all. Each one will have different gifts to various degrees. The Holy Spirit distributes these gifts as He chooses. 1 Corinthians 12 outlines the gifts of the Spirit. Then there is the fruit of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These gifts must be cultivated in our life. If we are filled with the Spirit, these fruits will be evident in our life. The power of the Spirit gives us strength to do what we never though we could or would do! Be willing to yield all to Him.
Description Jesus has taken the sting of death for us! We can know and live without fear. The resurrection of Jesus has an effect on Christianity. Dont' stop at the cross. Paul proclaimed what he knew to be true, Jesus was risen!
It was impossible for the grip of death to keep hold of Him. Jesus held the power to die and to live again. His love for us was more powerful than the grave. His work of redemption is done. Simply receive what Easter sealed.
If death couldn't hold Him, no other bond can hold Him. If death couldn't hold Jesus, it is just as impossible to keep in bondage anything that belongs to Him. The chains of habit can't hold us. The chains of hell can't hold us. The chains of depression can't hold us. The chains of death can't hold us.
Come alive today. New life is found in Jesus. Receive Him as your personal Savior!
Description In Scripture the Jews were looking for a king. Jesus shows up and proclaims He is the Son of God, but He didn't come as they had expected. His birth was miraculous and had been prophesied, He performed miracles, He taught with power and authority, yet they still could not see. John 1:10-11 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.The people didn't even realize that Jesus was the Messiah because the same ones who cried "Hosanna!" in just a few days later cried "Crucify Him."
Jesus used this word picture in John 12:24, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. It is a familiar picture we can all understand. Before a crop can be harvested a seed must first be planted. The seed must be placed in the ground and die before has the potential to bear thousands of new grains. Because Jesus died and is risen from the dead, He has the power to duplicate His life in every single person who places their faith in Him.
Why did this king come? Jesus came to die. Jesus came to take the penalty of sin! He said, "If I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all peoples to myself." The cross of Christ still has the power to move us today. He is patient with us and is not wanting any to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Do you believe? Have you received the King? Jesus loves you.
Description "He that is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else." ~Benjamin Franklin
An excuse by definition is an attempt to release from obligation or duty by mitigating circumstances. Excuses are as old as humanity itself. We are all experts at it. It's what we do. And Moses was no exception. Moses made excuses before accepting God's calling on his life and we do the same thing at times.
Excuse #1 - Who, me? I'm nobody! Who Am I
Will you let your life go, so God can take control? Jesus said whoever lays down their life to serve me will find it. God says don't worry, I'm going with you. Trust in God.
Excuse #2 - What if I go and they ask who sent me?
God says, I AM WHO I AM! It's not about who you are Moses. We have authority in His name, with His blessing to speak the truth in love.
Excuse #3 - They won't believe me!
God never denied people would doubt - that's life. God never asked Moses to use something he didn't have. What are your gifts? Don't worry about what might happen.
Excuse #4 - I don't speak well!
We have all told God why we're not good enough or ready yet. Moses finally responds in obedience.
NO MORE EXCUSES
When it comes to God our excuses are often a matter of the heart. Look to the cross. Look to Jesus. Look to love. God is sufficient...He is Lord! Do you trust Him with your life? Don't make an excuse for your excuses.
Description What is a parable? Stories that have a hidden or double meaning. They are used to reveal or conceal. Today we'll look at judgment in the context of two parables, The Mote and the Beam and Casting Pearls Before Swine, and hopefully gain a better understanding of the subject.
The Mote and the Beam
Be Cautious in Judging. The Scripture is not saying don't judge, because we all will be judged. But rather judge yourself first before looking at others. We tend to judge out of our own weaknesses. It is a mark of maturity. Don't judge wrongfully. There are some things we can not judge. You will be judged by the manner in which you judge. Never judge to condemn, be critical, find fault, disapprove or be reproachful.
Don't judge until you have the duty and capability to judge.
Duty and Capability. We can't judge matters of the heart. We must have the moral authority to judge. Don't be prejudiced or biased and consider all points of view. Judge with love. Don't communicate your judgment unless prompted by the Holy Spirit.
How Do We Judge? Be the example. Judge in humility and with a loving heart. Be ready and willing to assist others. Judge only after much prayer.
Why Do We Have To Be So Careful? If we judge unjustly we may provoke retaliation. It is unbecoming of Christians and we may condemn ourselves.
Pearls Before Swine
Dont' be blind towards evil. Don't be a hater of truth. The admonition is not to compromise the sacred things of God, not to descerate the truth with irreverence, and not to be cynical about the things of God. To honor this admonition we must be able to judge between truth and lies, good and evil, holy and profane, and right and wrong.
Judge justly, mercifully, and lovingly. Judge with purpose. Realize some things are best left with God. Don't broadcast your judgement. Don't cheapen or trivialize the things of God.
Description What are your expectations and hopes in life? Someone well said, "There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them." To go places in life and to please God, must have expectations and hope of better things.We must live by faith.
One need not lose hope. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have and have it to the full." Life without Christ is a hopeless end, but with Christ, it's an endless hope. Paul had great expectations and hope in life. The expectation of prayer support, spiritual strength, honoring Christ, and good work.
The Expectation of Prayer Support. People need people. Sympathy should never run out with Christians. Be devoted to one another and bear one another's burdens. Always keep praying for all the saints. Expect prayer support from one another.
The Expectation of Spiritual Strength. Expect God's Spirit to work in us and strengthen us.
The Expectation of Honoring Christ. Paul wanted to honor Christ in life and in death. We can pray, "God, help me to honor You."
The Expectation of Good Work. Do you have goals? Have you met those goals? Paul speaks of fruiftul labor. Pray over our work and expect God to bless our work!
Faith in God sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible.
Description The question before us is, can your difficulties advance the Gospel? There are two kinds of difficulties that can be experienced - internal and external. Internal difficulties tend to pull apart or weaken. External difficulties bring together and strengthen. We see this demonstrated in the first century church with the Apostle Paul. Paul was thrown in prison by those hoping to stop the advancement of the Gospel. But the opposite happened. According to Paul this only blazed the trail for the preaching of the Gospel.
God used Paul's circumstances to advance the Gospel. Paul wanted the church to know that because of his imprisonment the Gospel was being proclaimed more. Paul had a divine perspective. He was looking at God's plan, not his own circumstances. Paul wrote to the Philippian church to encourage them. The wicked may plot against God, but God can overrule to make the very plan work to bring Himself glory.
Paul's circumstances were used to bring a great testimony. When people stand for what they believe in Jesus Christ it produces a testimony. How we live and how we react to difficulties makes a difference. Our testimony will be noticed in in difficulties we are able to praise God.
Paul's testimony encouraged others to boldness in Christ. Paul's suffering in prison was causing others to preach with a new boldness. Be bold in your relationship with Jesus Christ. God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of boldness. Our difficulties can show how Christ changed our life and inspire boldness.
Your difficulties will advance the Gospel if you are truly living for Jesus Christ. If not, your difficulties will remain simply that, difficulties. When you put your faith and trust in Christ and walk in His ways, then your difficulties will bring glory to God.
Description How will we win our friends, family and neighbors to the Lord? Not by telling them what they need to do differently in their lives, but by doing what Jesus said to do - love others as well as you love yourself! Love is a powerful four letter word!
Unconditional love. This only comes from God and the love God offers. He loves us because of who He is, not because of who we are. He is the only constant we can depend on.
Nothing can seperate. His love is everywhere. God hates sin, but loves the sinner. The religious people sometimes measure out God's love with a teaspon; yet, expect it in their lives by the truck load! No angels or demons can do anything to affect the availability of God's love. Sin is powerless to change His love for us.
Confident in love. Our confidence comes from His love for us. We don't need to fear losing His love. Jesus knows all about us and still loves us. We don't have to change our self before we come to know Him.
Fruitful in love. We need to pray that the blinders would be removed. The world needs to know the truth about God's love.
The extent of God's great love. God gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Description Communion is sharing in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It speaks to the present. It is a symbol of our unity and who we are living for in this life. It reminds us to keep our eyes on Him. It tells us that He is who He said He is. It points to the future - our complete redemption and glorification in heaven before the Great White Throne. We proclaim His death until He comes again.
Luke 24 gives an account of two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus following Jesus' crucifixion. The two diciples gave up on Jesus. Thank God Jesus drew near even though they could not see or recognize Him. Find encouragement in that today. Know there is a God who draws near and travels with us until we can see again! That is good news! That is grace! That is Jesus!
We all must confess that there have been times when we've been blind and distant. Thank God we are not left alone. Jesus is walking right beside us. Jesus said, "Remember me." Communion helps us focus on Jesus instead of ourselves. Notice the change in the disicples' attitude - from despair to hope, from depression to joy, from doubt to belief, from defeat to victory, from dismay to courage, and from disillusionment to enlightment.
Why the change? Jesus drew near...broke bread!" Jesus is here among us today! So take communion often and remember Jesus.
It is important for all of us to know how relevant the Word of God is to our lives. Today we are going to see how Daniel 1 applies to our life because if the Word of God cannot be used in our every day life, what good is it really to us. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever so that means His Word is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Here are lessons from the life of Daniel that we can apply to our life:
-Sometimes things happen to us that are not our fault.
-Our talents and abilities can lead us into places where we are tested.
-Not all knowledge is good.
-What appears good to some may be wrong for you.
-The enemy wants to steal your identity.
-Don't be afraid to be the first to stand up.
-When you stand up you will give others the courage to follow.
-God is not afraid of tests.
-Don't be afraid to ask for favor.
The Bible is real and God wants to speak to you through it. It all begins with a relationship with Jesus Christ. As you begin that relationship know that the Word of God is for you and He will speak to you through it.
The art of neighboring-Jesus called us to love our neighbor with an extravagant, generous love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
Be extravagantly generous. Principle: Instead of revenge, choose forgiveness.
Love your neighbor. Principle: Don't just love your neighbor, but love everyone - including your enemies!
Be children of God. Principle: As we become extravagant in our love, we become more like God.
How do we change? How do we become more loving? Abide in Jesus in prayer. Abide in His Word. abide in His love. The more we know and believe the love God has for us, the more we will love others.
God wants us to be joyful people who celebrate and enjoy life! Times of spiritual celebration can be transforming experiences. Learn to praise God even in the midnight hour. In Acts we read of Paul and Silas being thrown into prison, yet they were praying and singing hymns to God.
How do we praise and worship?
-From the heart
-According to the Bible
-Clapping our hansd
-Lifting our hands
-In the dance
King David was ridiculed and despised by Michal for dancing before the Lord with all his might. His response to this, "It was before the Lord....And I will be even more undignified than this..." Will you be like David the dancer or Michael the mocker?
Challenge: Press in and celebrate the goodness of the Lord. When we praise the Lord, we come into His presence. And in His presence is fullness of joy. And His joy is our strength!
As we spend time in the secret place of prayer we are transformed into the image of Jesus. Today let's talk about the spiritual discipline of prayer. Prayer in the secret place.
Solitude. It is important to spend time with Jesus alone.
Silence. It is important to spend time with Jesus listening. God wants to give you encouragement, wisdom, and direction. During the transformation process the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and shows us areas to work on.
Soaking. It is important to spend time with Jesus abiding in His love. Let Jesus pour His love on you. Soak it in. Neglecting our personal quiet time can lead to disappointment and loss of hope. Cultivate a hunger and thirst for the God. My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You. Psalm 63:1
Scripture Meditation and Study. The best food for you is the Word of God. Read the Bible. Study it. Meditate on it. Memorize it.
Challenge yourself. Begin slowly, pray for five minutes a day. Choose the same time every day. Stir up a hunger for more of God. Maybe fast if you need to (food or other things). Take your Bible with you and meditate on the Psalms. Pray through and meditate on Scriptures like the Lord's Prayer of Psalm 23.
Make a purposeful effort to be in the secret place with God!
I begin with a quote from John Ortberg. "How do I grow? What does a spiritually mature person even look like? Will I ever really be any different? ... The Christian gospel insists that transformation...really is possible. Never easy. Rarely quick. But possible...It begins to happen anytime people become intensely serious about learning from Jesus how to arrange their lives. The desire for transformation lies deep in every human heart."
How do we grow? We have to engage in spiritual disciplines. Here are a few things to note about spiritual disciplines: They help us become more like Jesus. They are not a measure of our spirituality. They are tools to help us change and grow.
Two categories of spiritual disciplines are: Engagement-intentionally doing something. (prayer, Bible study, worship, etc.) Abstinence-refraining from doing something. (fasting, solitude, etc.) I want to talk about three spiritual disciplines: Prayer, Bible reading, and loving people. Today we will focus on prayer.
Prayer - abiding in Jesus. Our lives will bear good fruit as we abide in Him. Apart from Him we can do nothing according to John 15. Engaging with Jesus in intimate fellowship is vital.As we abide in Jesus and get to know Him better, we will become more like Him. If we want to grow spiritually and be transformed, we must spend time with Jesus!
Peace is not the absence of trouble, but rather the presence of God. Are you willing to open your heart to God's peace in the midst of your struggles?
Peace in the midst. There was noise, hurt, pain, struggle and fear that first Christmas, yet there was great joy and peace. Our journey of peace is not one separated from the realities of life, but a journey of peace in the midst of life. Peace. Be still.
Prince of Peace. Peace is not just a state of being. Peace is a person-Jesus. When we abide in Him, we abide in peace. When we abide in peace, we learn to trust God with the unpeaceful parts of our lives. Where do you need to surrender and enter the journey of peace?
Peace for the world. Peace doesn't always come to the world around us. We live in a place of tension between the past, present, and future. It is not until Jesus comes again that our world will experience complete and perfect peace. Philippians assures us that we can have a peace that trancsends all understanding. Sometimes it is not so much that our situations change, but God changes our hearts and perspectives. His peace will overcome all. It will sustain us through our difficulties.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
Pause and soak in these words-Peace. Be still. Rest in the Prince of Peace.
Today our journey to Christmas continues as we focus on joy. Joy is often misunderstood and confused with happiness. And it regularly shows up in situations where it may be least expected.
Have you ever noticed when angels show up in Scripture their first words are almost always "Do not be afraid"? This happened with the shepherds. Now these were not cowardly men. They were rugged and accustomed to living in wild areas. But when the angel appeared, they went weak at the knees with fear. The angel had good news that would bring great joy for all people, but first they had to help the shepherds get over their fear. This is the starting point on our journey to joy. Today I want to walk through three aspects of joy.
First, joy and pain co-exist. Our lives are a constant balance of joy and pain. The message of the angel is for us as well: Do not be afraid! You do not have to fear. There is good news of great joy for you! Our trials can lead us to grow and become mature in faith. Joy comes from understanding there is more than the pain we are facing.
Next, joy brings connection with others. The good news is for all people. The joy of Jesus' coming goes into all the earth, connecting us to Him and to each other. Fear and pain isolate, but joy connects.
Lastly, the appropriate response to joy is worship. Worship can also jump-start joy as we fix our eyes on God and His greater reality rather than on immediate problems or the fears we are facing at the moment.
What can we do when we are not experiencing joy? Connect with others. Be purposefully thankful. And worship God for who He is. His eternal love and faithfulness never change.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4
How do you perceive God's love for you? Do you feel you earn it? Do you wonder if God's love is meant for you? Do you see overflow of God's love in your own life toward others? Today I hope you gain a clearer understanding of God's love for you.
First, God's love has always been. It has a been a love story from the first day of creation. His love is not something new. God chose us and predestined us in love for adoption through Jesus as sons and daughters. Love starts with God. God is love. It is His nature and His character.
Next, love is enough. To know this love and be filled with it, is our desire. God's love never fails. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Lastly, let love overflow. Love others, even the unlovable. It's about God's love in us overflowing to others.
Meditate and think on the love of God. Three things I want you to clearly understand:1-God is love. He sent His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for us. 2-We can know and rely on God's love. 3-We love because God first loved us. So let's walk in God's love. It's a journey of action and truth.
This is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a season of great expectation as we journey toward Christmas. It's a journey that will explore the gifts of Christmas discovered through Christ: hope, love, joy and peace. Let's look for the light! Will you say "yes" to the journey?
How do we follow the star on a journey of hope? First, we must acknowledge the darkness. God chose a star to guide the wise men to Bethlehem. Throughout the Bible we see how God uses His own creation to reveal himself. On the darkest nights we see the stars the brightest. Let's be honest. There is darkness in the world around us and within our own lives. The beauty of the journey of hope is that what seems to be the darkest hour, God shows up.
Next, we must embrace the wait. No one likes waiting. God had a plan of hope from the very beginning. The waiting reminds us of where our hope is set. One day we will stand before the throne and before the Lamb. There will be no more hunger or thirst. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Finally, commit to the journey. This is an "active waiting". We wait with expectant hearts, but we are constantly moving forward on our journey. Keep following the light. God's timing is perfect. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him!
Things to remember when waiting: God is in authority, find rest, these are refining moments. Keep in mind there is no real time-table on success. In waiting we have a choice to make: be held hostage by it or thrive in it.
Held Hostage by the times waiting. 1 Corinthians tells us nothing we do for the Lord is ever useless. That includes waiting. If we allow ourselves to be held hostage to the "waiting", we will miss out on current blessings, never feel settled, and lose our motivation. It's not the best choice.
So how can we thrive in the times of waiting. Keep focus on the "Why" of the work. Redefine success. Success is being where God wants us. Stay rooted and built up in Him overflowing with thankfulness. Return to the basics.
God's promises to you: You are loved, you are blessed, you have purpose, and you have hope. God is using ALL THINGS for goo.
God gives us everything we need for a full life - most importantly Jesus. In Thessalonians we are encouraged to give thanks in all circumstances. It's easy to give thanks in the good times, but what about the dark and gray times? It's not a fun place to be. I believe true thankfulness originates or is found in the difficult circumstances.
Here's a great illustration I heard: "Giving thanks" is like shooting an arrow that cuts through everything-all darkness-straight to the heart of God. If we cry to God in our trouble he will save us. Quit praying, "Why God?" Don't get stuck there. Cry out from where you are at and God will pull you through. Why does God want us to give thanks in all circumstances? When we give thanks it sets our eyes back on Him.
In the presence of our enemies God prepares a table for us. That's good news! Only God is at the table with us. We are all fighting battles every single day. The only time we will lose our peace is if we allow the devil to have a seat at our table. So don't allow it.
Remember God is the Good Shepherd and He is with us. Enjoy life to the fullest. God is painting a picture with your life and then guess what? We get to dwell in His house forever.
Last week we began a series "Waiting" with the purpose of discovering what God reveals to us in these moments of waiting. We acknowledged the ultimate and absolute power of our Lord Jesus Christ. When it comes to life, whether we recognize it or not, God is the authority.
Today we will take it one step further in terms of "Resting in that Authority." In life it seems even when things are going well we feel like we have to be constantly on the lookout for something bad happening. Let me say this: Stop trying to avoid the disasters of life, because they're going to happen.
1. Be Prepared. Time in the waiting is necessary for our spiritual growth. Most wait until the "Bomb" goes off before turning to God. Seek God in all seasons, especially when things are good! Investing daily in our walk with God acknowledges our reverence for His authority.
2. Still, Quiet, and Humbled. Rest in the knowledge that "I am God." When we rest in God we refocus our energy towards God, build endurance for future hardships, and allowing healing to begin.
3. Dare to Hope. Experience peace that is rooted in resting in love. Worry, doubt, inability to submit-all these put a barrier between God and us. Talk to God about how you feel. Then, stop and wait to hear God's voice through His Word, through others, and in the intimate moments.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28. God is doing something. Find rest and allow God to work.
How many people like waiting? Let's be honest, we all hate to wait! Today we begin a series call "Waiting". From time to time, we all find ourselves waiting. God will reveal truths to us in the moments of waiting.
Waiting on God. It is for a purpose. Romans 8:28 says, "In all things God works for the good of those who love him." That should give us hope!
The Authority of Faith. Waiting on God is a necessity for spiritual growth. James encourages us to count it pure joy when we face trials. Why? Because the testing of our faith produces perseverance. And perseverance leads us to maturity. We learn to believe the Word as truth, that Jesus has authority over all things, even when we can't see with our eyes. When we forget this, we have a "Crisis of Faith". So what do we do?
Remember Your Hero. Remember God's faithfulness. Remember the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. Remember what you have seen Him do in the past. Trust He will come through again.
Today if find yourself in a period of waiting, know God is the authority. Let Go and trust God with every situation. Cast your burden upon Him. See the blessings. Reflect on what God has done in your life. Everyone has a testimony. Acknowledge God's authority. Submit: "Even in this, You are still God."