Description My God, my God, why have you forsaken me...Have you ever been there? In Psalm 22, this is exactly where David found himself. After saying this, he goes on to say, "But You are holy, O You who are enthroned in the praises of Israel." He declares that his fathers trusted and God rescued them.They were not disappointed or ashamed. When we ask, "Lord, what can I do?" The answer is simple - Praise the Lord!
David tells how he feels and it wasn't good. You get the feeling he was almost at the point of giving up, but he did not. There are many biblical examples of praise. Psalm 150 gives us different reasons and ways to praise. Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing. When praise came first the victory was won.
God inhabits the praise of His people. Russ Taff wrote a powerful song titled "Praise the Lord" that speaks of our struggles and the urge to submit to earthly fears dropping powerless behind us when we praise the Lord. God is enthroned on the praise of His people!
As believers, God is always with us. When we praise God, we announce that presence of God to ourselves. When we praise it places God first in our lives.
What does God being enthroned on our praise really mean? When God is first in our lives...when we praise Him...when we announce His presence to ourselves...we have a closeness...an intimate relationship...that we cannot have when we are in opposition to the will of God.
Description The Hand of Herod
In the Scripture today we see that Herod the King stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. He had the power of the Roman army behind him. The Jewish religious leaders hated Herod since he was not a Jew. He used his power to destroy the church.
The Place of Help
Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. The spirit of Herod lives on in attacks made against the church and against God's people. We respond in many ways when we find ourselves under attack:
We can retreat
We can hide
We can fight back with words or physical force
We can do what the early church did - pray
How did the early church pray? Without ceasing.
Where did they pray? Anywhere - there is power in corporate prayer.
What did they pray? Boldness to speak the word, power to heal, miracles to confirm the truth.
The Open Door
During the night a light shone in the prison, the Lord struck Peter on the side and raised him up, his chains fell off of his hands. Once Peter was free, he went where people were praying. They were praying people, but they were realists. They were praying, but they didn't know how God would answer.
Description The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most powerful event of all time. If it weren't for the resurrection, there would be no need to celebrate the birth of Jesus. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, our faith is futile.
What difference does Easter make?
Our Sins are Forgiven - Jesus paid the full penalty for our sins and accomplished what God had planned. "It is finished." There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Our Lives Have Purpose - Our faith is alive and vital to abundant life. God had a plan for our lives all along. We are His workmanship prepared for good works. We are God's masterpiece, a work of art. We are all different and that's okay. God's purpose is for us is to bring the "Good News" to those around us. How? Through the power of Jesus Christ in us. He gives us the power to change what we cannot.Through the promises of Christ. All the promises of God are yes and amen.
Our Future Is Secure - One day we are all going to die. Only a fool would go through life and not prepare for something we is going to happen. Sincerity, good works, giving up stuff, rituals, heritage, and comparison will not get us to heaven. It's only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There's only one way. It's not about what we know, it's about who we know.
Jesus is our Living Hope. Make it right. Give Him all. Let Him transform your life today.
Description Joshua summoned the Israelite soldiers and commended them for being faithful until the job was done. It had taken seven years. He only makes one request to them - remain faithful to God. There is peace and prosperity, and all is well. Then, one side did something that the other side misunderstood and they are about to fight each other. Most conflicts start with a misunderstanding. Let's look at what happened? There are some valuable lessons we can learn from this story.
Expect tension in your relationships at times. Good communication can alleviate much of that tension. Communicate (explain) intentions ahead of time. Leaders never like surprises. Don't startle people.
Express truth in love. Communicate facts with truth and grace. Avoid responding in anger. Making false accusations in anger is no way to resolve conflict. James 1:20 says, "The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." Avoid wrong assumptions. Respond with respect and grace. If you are falsely accused, avoid a retaliatory attack - speak the truth in love.
Exalt the Lord together. Resolving conflict is not about who is right or wrong. It's about God getting the glory. It is better to "suffer wrong" than to bring disrepute to the cause of Christ. Christ died on the cross to bring reconciliation not only between us and God, but also between us and the other believers.
Description Why is Encouragement so important? People get tired of the weight of responsibility. People feel taken for granted. People have self-doubts.
How to do it:
Be specific - "I appreciate you because_____" or "Thank you for __________." Big compliments can be great when they speak to the heart of who we are, but small compliments let us know people appreciate the little things we do.
Be sincere -
Look at Spiritual Things - Encouragement is rare, but encouragements about spiritual things is even rarer. What would this look life? Look for the spiritual heart beneath the action.
Description Spiritually speaking, there are too many Christians who are walking in circles. God will lead you to your destiny! Do you need victory today? God has requested that you be the one to move this time. You are worthy to have complete victory in your life. Jesus paid the price for your life and no one can take that from you.
From Jeremiah 29:11-13, understand you have great value to God! God has a masterpiece of a plan to provide you with a continual hope and a future. Have you ever tried to help God? It's time to step aside and let God start giving you all that He has for you.
Seek the truth and the truth will set you free. God knows all about us because He made us. We can do all things through him who gives us strength. We can make it through anything in the One who makes us who we are. In the story of Joseph we see that the Lord made all he did to prosper. God is not a respector of persons, God is a respector of faith! He rewards it.
It's time to move into the new. Be willing to step out of the box of mornalcy. There is no situation God cannot turn around. What do you want God to do in your life? Ask Him to reveal His plans for you. He who started a good work in you will be faithful until the day He completes it!
Description Keep focus. Take care of the things God has called you to take care of right now. Don't let people drag you away from the task at hand.
Partnering When we feel that we're not alone, we get the work done. What might prevent partnering? Jealousy, pride, and slander. The benefits of partnering: friendships, protection, and strength. More is accomplished.
Persistent Dpn't give up. Look up: Ask God to help you. Look back: See how far He has brought you. Look around: You are not alone.
Description For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. What does this mean? How did we die? What part of our life is now hidden with Christ? Let's talk about it.
What is life? Our will, relationships, desires, memories, plans, dreams, ambitions, treasures, pride/dignity, justice/judgment, values, knowledge, wisdom, energy, awareness, money, power, emotions, trust in the world, pleasure, decision making, growth, movement, and drives to sin. All of this, and more, make up life. When we die to self, we die to this list of things that comprise life. This doesn't make us very happy. Who would do this?
How do we die to our life? Note, we are not to attempt to do the crucifying, God alone will do the crucifying. God will not crucify the old man unless we give Him permission and allow Him to do so. So we have to have the desire.
How does God put to death the old man and our self-will? He puts us in prison, so to speak. He denies our most fervent desires for a season. We learn obedience through suffering. In order to move forward in God we must be willing to let God crucify our will. There can be no holding back.
What does it mean to be dead? More importantly, what is the result of being dead to self? We gain our life back in vastly superior eternal form. We get what satisfies. Our life is redeemed. Our will becomes one with God's and we are totally fulfilled.
In conclusion - We understand how God crucifies our old life. We are not deprived of anything of any real value. We trade our thread-bare garments for royal robes. Ask yourself, and the Lord, who is in control of my life? Give God permission to crucify the aspect of your life that comes to mind. Remember the three rules for spiritual success: pray, pray, and pray some more.
Description There are many ways Satan keeps us enslaved, but God wants his people to be FREE!
Jesus tells how to be free of worry. "...do not worry about tomorrow..." "Each day has enough trouble of its own." The problem with borrowing from tomorrow is: You lose strength to deal with today's burdens, you fail to properly do your God-given responsibilities today, and helping others today becomes difficult.
Don't add troubles of tomorrow or yesterday. When you are full of worry and anxiety, PRAY. Change your thought patterns. If you can, resolve the burdens of yesterday. Forgive yourself.
Freedom from bondage. Without Christ you are under the bondage of sin. Jesus, the Son of God, paid the penalty for your sin. Jesus will free you from the bondage of sin and give you eternal life.
Description Does anybody write anymore? What has happened to the art of writing? Here's some good advice for writing: Make it clear, make it brief, make it accurate, and make it simple. Let's write more! Writing can bless others if we let it. Let's not lose this art that God gave us. In today's passage, let's consider the different groups to whom John wrote and what he wrote.
I Write to You Children. I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. (1 John 2:12) I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. (1 John 2:14) John is probably writing those who are young in the faith. New converts are more acutely aware of their forgivenss. New converts are aware that God is not only God, but also their Father.
I Write to You Young Men.I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:13) I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:14) John is talking about those who are strong in the faith. Trials can make us stronger in our faith. When the Word of God lives in us through reading, meditation, memorization, etc. we will overcome the evil one.
I Write to You Fathers. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. (1 John 2:13) I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. (1 John 2:14) Be a father of faith. This is the faith we need: To know Him and to know Him well!
Description When Rudy Gulliani became mayor of New York City, he embraced a social theory called "Broken Windows" to fight crime and attempt to improve the overall living standard of the city. This theory holds that a seemingly minor matter like broken windows in abandoned buildings leads directly to more serious deterioration of neighborhoods. Basically stated, if one window is already broken, it is easier for a person to just go ahead and break another. The theory was developed in the 80's, but it's seems to be exactly what Paul was saying in the passage from Ephesians we will look at today.
The key verses are Ephesians 4:22-24 and 5:1-2. Put off your old self and put on your new self. Be imitators of God. Paul is speaking here to people who are aldready Christians. In other words, reject what destroys community and promote what builds community. Repair the "Broken Windows". The windowpanes that need fixing are our mouths, our hands, and our hearts.
Speak the truth. Lying is destructive behavior. Jesus Christ said, "I am the truth." As Christians we are to be the truth of Christ personified. Lying is sin.
Misuse and abuse of our mouths. Proverbs warns against gossip. Don't grieve the Holy Spirit. Get rid of gossip, backstabbing, foul language, and verbal abuse.
Let's use our mouths for righteous purposes. Build each other up with encouraging words. Be kind and compassionate. Forgive one another.
Contribute to the community. Use your hands for something useful to benefit those in need.
Laziness, procrastination, and consumer Christianity are all subtle sins.
Giving is a lifestyle.
Use your hands for holy and righteous purposes - for construction and not destruction.
Two Areas - Anger and Love
Anger - a self-centered emotion. It's a choice. Anger must not take up residence. Anger is not a sin as such, but can become a foothold for the devil. Do not hold on to your anger.
Love - the most challenging to repair. God says, "Be holy, becuase I am holy." Love following the example of Jesus. Jesus promised to be with us as we seek to reach that goal. The sacrifice of Jesus is pleasing to God because: Jesus was obedient and it restores people into relationship with Himself. Our response to this passage requires obedience.
Consider the "Broken Windows" in our lives. Seek God's help to make the repairs that need to be made.
Description When Foundations Crumble Spiritual earthquakes occur when life takes an unexpected and cruel twist that rocks our nicely built world. Loss is something every one of us has experienced. The power of God's grace and love are more than enough to help us survive. God cares, comforts, hears and delivers.
How Do We Rebuild Through Jesus Christ our Cornerstone. Our lives are to be built and based upon Jesus. He understands. Through other believers. Show love to others the way we want to be loved by being there and helping with reconciliation. Through creating a new normal. Life will never return back to normal. Resist the temptation to be bitter over the loss. Resist blaming others. Resist focusing on what's been lost and instead focus on what is left. Count our blessings. Let go of the "why" and start looking for those reasons to move forward.
Description Little Town God chooses to use small things to accomplish great purposes. The population of Bethlehem was about 150. The references to Bethlehem in the Bible are interesting. Jacob's wife, Rachel was buried there. She died giving birth to Jacob's youngest son, known as "son of my sorrow" and "son of my right hand", both terms used to describe Jesus. Then in the book of Ruth, this town was where Ruth was "redeemed" and married Boaz. In prophecy Micah 5 declares, "though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one hwo will be ruler over Israel." God's greatest gift came to a little town.
Big Light Jesus is the light of the world. As we look at the qualities of physical light, we see many similarities to the spiritual light Jesus brings to our life. Light brings sight and understanding. Light brings ilfe. Light cheers. Light gives security. Light removes stains and purifies. Light heals.Light brings hope. Jesus is the "Big Light" that will transform you, if you allow Him to.
Description The first in our Christmas Series 4-Word Messages with Pastor Tim Wright. Today's 4-word message: Wait, Prepare, Reflect, Believe.
Waiting in the dark. Jesus was born into a world that was dark. Prior to Jesus' birth, there had been what many refer to as "400 Years of Silence" from God. The period of waiting was very long. What are we doing while we wait? Our actions in dark times reveal where our faith is. God's silence does not signify his absence.
How are we Preparing? Are we spending time with Jesus. It takes time and effort to grow deeper in our walk with the Lord.
Reflect God uses hardships to point us back to him. In the midst of darkness, the light of Christ is more obvious. In the text in Matthew 2 we see what happens with light breaks through. There are many comparisons between the light of Christ and physical light. Light can cause recoil, it is invasive, and it attracts.
Believe Christ continues to attract peopel today. True hope is found in Him alone. He is the giver of eternal life. You are the light of the world.
Will you wait for Him? Will you prepare for Him? Will you reflect Him? Will you believe Him?
Description Two verses from the passage (The Message) I want to draw your attention to:
Don't allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good.
Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest.
More thoughts from the passage:
Live creatively...looking for an opportunity to help or sow into people around you.
Don't pay attention to what others are doing.
Don't allow your will to limit God.
Everyone who know "the way" has seed to be planting or sharing.
It's God's responsbility to determine the harvest.
Be on the lookout, ready to respond.
What kind of seed can I plant today?
An Understanding About the Harvest:
You will always reap what you sow. Make up your mind what you will give. God loves it when we delight in giving. Sow with reckless abandon.
The harvest is a process. Don't get tired of doing what is good. Your harvest will take time. Harvest is a process of many phases. Spiritual growth happens through a process. Start expanding your expectation! When it comes time to reap, be ready!
Harvest is a season. Don't miss the miracle of the "right now moment." Listen to what God is telling you to do. Give Him the opportunity to prove His extravagance. Do everything as unto God!
Description Scripture refers to us as the clay and to God as the potter. A difference between actual clay and us is we have a will. We can choose to not allow the potter to mold us, make us, and use us.
What kind of clay is unusable:
Clay that is bone dry. Believers over a period of time who allow their spiritual life to dry up. They are backslidden, no longer affected by the things of truth. God can do absolutely nothing with this type of clay. To be useful again, it must be completely crushed, and the process of molding start over again.
Clay that lacks moisture. Clay that exists, but can't be used. Believers who have just enough relationship with God to know they are saved and forgiven. They believe, but never surrender their will to God. They refuse to allow the potter to mold them. Begin yielding your life to the Holy Spirit.
Clay with hidden air. Believers who look like they have it all together, but there are hidden pockets of sin. When God begins to turn up the fire the hidden things are revealed. If you have hidden sin, confess it and turn from it.
Let's be usable clay in the Potter's hand.
Our Three Fold Calling: A Call to the Impossible and to Service
Description This is the second part in the two-part series Our Three Fold Calling. Today the focus will be The Call to the Impossible and the Call to Service based on the life of Peter.
The Call to the Impossible. In the account of Jesus walking on the water, we see Peter had a desire to do the impossible also. But he got permission from Jesus, he didn't just rush ahead without asking. Walking on water was a miracle regardless if there were wind and waves. The wind and waves were just a distraction to cause Peter to take his eyes off Jesus. The same is true for us, circumstances will try to get us to take our eyes of Jesus. Keep your focus on Jesus.
The Call to Service. In the story of the lame man asking for money, Peter was able to looked beyond the surface and see the real need. To see the man the way Jesus saw him. Sometimes we look at the outward appearance of a person and don't want to help them. Look through the eyes of Jesus and see beyond the surface. Notice the man did not get what he asked for or expected. God gave the man what he needed. The man praised God, not Peter. He recognized God at work through the life of Peter. Let our lives and service point people to Jesus.
Description This is the first of a two-part message Our Three-Fold Calling as illustrated by the life of Peter. In looking at the life of Peter, I see three distinct calls common to all of us as Christians.We are going to talk about the call to discipleship today. Most of us have a vocation or job, but what we do for a living often has little to do with what we are called by God to do with our lives.
We begin our walk with Jesus with the call to discipleship. This is the time in our lives when we abandon our religious ideas, forsake all, and follow Jesus on a day by day basis. Not everyone who has called upon the name of the Lord, or who have been saved, not all of these are walking as disciples.
Discipleship stripes away religion. Peter was content to let Jesus be part of his religious life, but with Jesus' instruction to him invaded a part of Peter's life that before was off limits to God. Peter's response was obedience. Realizing who Jesus was, he left everything to follow Jesus.
Jesus is calling you to a life of intimacy with Him, as a brother or sister, to be a temple of the living God, to be a royal priesthood, to be trees of life, to be light. He is calling you to discipleship. Are you willing to answer the call?
Description "The Lord will strengthen your frame." It's amazing how God created us. The human skeleton is the internal framework of the body. God wants to strengthen the framework of our spiritual lives. We aren't called to walk in our strength, we're called to walk in His strength.
Places where we need to be strong for the Lord: Character, faith, hope, prayer life, compassion, joy, patience, passion, wisdom and love.
Basic truths we see in Isaiah 58:11: The Lord wants to guide you. The Lord wants to satisfy your needs. The Lord wants to strengthen your frame. is your life like that of a well-watered garden?
Return to the basics. Let God guide my life. Allow God to be my provider. Let God strengthen my frame. Return to the basics of faith, prayer, Bible reading, giving, service and worship. He must increase - I must decrease. Allow the Lord to recharge and renew your spiritual life.
Do you go all out for what you believe in? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26
Description "The Lord is my strength." This phrase is repeated 92 times throughout the Old Testament. It must be important. So let's be sure we are walking in the strength the Lord has for us. How? The song of praise found in Isaiah 12 gives us several keys.
First, express excitement for what the Lord has done in our lives. Give praise reports! Philippians 4 encourages us to rejoice in the Lord always.
We must acknowledge that God is our salvation. Ephesians 2 makes it clear that salvation is a gift that only comes from God.
We must trust in the Lord. Romans declares we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Peace is one of the first benefits we gain from a relationship with the Lord. Life can be really real and raw at times, but it is in those times we need to follow the TBK plan. That is, we Trust, Believe, and Know.
Finally, we must acknowledge God is our strength and song. He is our RESOURCE. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. He is our REFUGE. God is our "safe place." When we are walking in God's will, we can face the most dangerous situation with confidence because God is with us!
Description Learn to live in the moment. Fully present. Fully committed. Fully aware. Let's walk through today's passage together.
The Centurion's Request. He asked for help. Anyone who is in need can come to Jesus. He is more willing to help than we are to ask...more willing to give than we are to receive. Jesus not only wants to help, He is actually eager to do so.
Authority of the Centurion Translates to the authority of the believer. When you claim authority, remember your place and position. It's a place of humility. To be poor in spirit means you recognize your spiritual poverty, your spiritual bankruptcy, your complete lack of resources, and your complete dependency upon God. Remember God's place. Come with confidence. Matthew 8:8 "But just say the word." Biblical principle: Authority is given. There is no authority except that which God has established. All authority comes from Him.
The Centurion's Faith Faith pleases God. Scripture says Jesus was amazed because of unbelief (Mark 6:6) and because of belief (Matthew 8:10). Faith alone can save. We are saved by faith, not by our heritage.
The Centurion's Reward The servant was healed. God works in response to faith. Distance is not a barrier to God. God is omnipresent. It's not a barrier for healing or salvation. Where are you today? Our sins have separated us from God, but God sent Jesus to bring us near.
Description Life is a series of choices. In today's story, Joshua had gathered all the leaders together for a final farewell. The key to Joshua's speech concerned choosing to serve the Lord. On the surface, it appars that the people made the right choice.
But as we look further in the book of Judges, we see the people had aldready violated their promise. Then by the time we get to the book of Ruth, we read there is a famine in the land flowing with milk and honey. Remember destiny is not a chance, destiny is a choice.
How do we choose the right destiny? First, remember what God has done. When the people obeyed God, He prospered them. Remember what God has done in your life. How? Through reading His Word and establishing some phyical reminders.
Next, get off the fence. Don't serve two masters. Give 100% to God alone. We must be changed by the power of Christ. The biggest danger of Christians today is not that they will reject Jesus, but rather they will add Jesus into their lives along with other things. So, choose to serve God alone. We are accountable to God fo the choices we make. How do we know when something has become a god to us? See if something or someone is taking more of our attention, time, and resources than we're giving to God.
Finally, choose to stay the course. Stay focused and finish well. Destiny is not a matter of chance, destiny is a choice. Everyone has to make a choice. Choose God and stay on track. The choice is yours.
Description Today I want to look at a story that involves Paul and a lot of bad luck. This account takes place right in the middle of Paul being taken to Rome. A few years prior to this Paul was arrested because he was preaching about the resurrection of Jesus. Because Paul was born a Roman citizen, he eventually appealed to go before Caesar. After defending himself in front of the Jewish council, he is placed on a ship that sets sail for Rome. While at sea a huge storm caused the ship to wreck. They swam ashore and learned they were on the island of Malta. It was the actions of Paul while on the Island that show why he was so great and successful. These same actions applied to our own lives will produce the same results.
The first thing we see them do is gather firewood for a fire. Paul was by far the greatest of all the people here, yet he was willing to be a servant. He understood the heart of ministry is about serving people. That's how we need to live our lives.
Next, as he throws wood onto the fire a snake jumps out and bites Paul. Paul was calm in the midst of distress and trials. The people saw the snake on Paul's hand so that means he didn't react. Everything Paul does, he does with purpose. Paul didn't leave the snake on him so that others could view him as a God, but rather to introduce these people to the one true God. How we act in the midst of trials and hardships has huge implications when it comes to showing people Jesus. We can walk in confidence that the Lord is still in control. Stand on the promises of God found in his Word.
Now, here's the best part of the story. The very hands that the viper bit, the very place that was supposed to bring death to Paul, is the very place God used to give life. Luke specifically states that Paul laid hands on this man and healed him. The situation, addiction, or thing you want to keep secret is the very thing God wants to use to bring others to him! God is on your side. He is so good at bringing healing to people and using that healing as a foundation to show others the life changing power of Jesus.
Finally, Paul knew God was not finished using him. He was safe in the arms of Jesus. We can take God's past faithfulness as a promise to future blessing and protection. The person walking in God's will cannot be stopped.
How do you know if you are walking in God's will? Are you telling others about Jesus and the transformation that has happened in your own life? It was Paul's mission in life to make disciples and that has to be our mission as well. Hardships may slow us down, but they cannot stop us unless we allow them to. God's purposes will have their way.
Description It is amazing what modern medicine can do to fix a heart. Unfortunately, modern medicine can do nothing for the divided heart. The heart of man is the mind, inclinations, conscience, will and soul. Disease of the heart and soul affects the whole man.
In today's passage the New Living Translation says that the hearts of the people are fickle. Elijah went before the people and said, "Don't waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if baal is God, follow him." The person with the divided heart can look good on the outside. The condition is difficult to cure because it is chronic. Matthew 6:24 tells us no one can serve two masters. Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is deceitful above all athings. 2 Corinthians 13:5 encourages us to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith.
What are the symptoms of a divided heart? ...having a form of godliness but denying its power. Do we know the power of God? Do we obey the Lord? Take God seriously, don't take ourselves so seriously. The essence of our faith is to transfer our focus from ourselves to Christ.
The sad effects of a divided heart are we are not at peace. David knew the joy of having an undivided heart. Take account of our life and see where we need to make changes. Don't have a divided heart, but a broken heart. Give your heart to Jesus.