Description Are you a football fan? We are in the second half of NFL season right now. One of the marks of a successful football team is the ability to change their game plan as needed at half time. Life can be a lot like football. So, let's imagine for a moment that you are in the game of life. The clock is winding down in the second quarter and you are entering half time. It's time to reassess. Let's talk about how to refocus your life and finish strong.
The Old Testament Saul In 1 Samuel 10 King Saul was at the top of his game. Only a few minutes before hale time, everything was good. Until Samuel, their spiritual leader, was late for an appointment. God used Samuel's late arrival to test Saul's heart. Saul took matters into his own hands. King Saul lost focus and edged out God. When EGO takes over it leads to trouble. Pride comes before a fall. King Saul set himself up at the authority. As a result the second half of his life was vastly different than the first. He went into battle without God's blessing. Three of his four sons were killed. His decisions affected his family. In grief, he fell on his sword and committed suicide. It was a tragic end to a life that started out strong.
The New Testament Saul He did not start off right. He hated Christians and sought to persecute them. In Acts 9:4-5, God got his attention. This was half time - a defining moment for Saul. Your response to God's promptings will determine the direction of your life. In that moment, Saul chose wisely. As a result Saul was changed from the inside out. His name was changed to Paul. He entered the second half with a new game plan. Paul wrote letters that later became books of the Bible. Allow God to transform you.
Today is Half Time Which Saul do you want to become. New life starts with a decision. You will need to say "No" to sin and "Yes" to a new way of living. It's time to refocus. God wants you life - ALL OF YOU. Give yourself completely to god. It will be worth it. God wants you to take a spiritual step towards Him. Now is the time.
Description God is everything we will ever need, but do we believe it? That will determine our path. Realize God is our provider, no matter how things appear. Don't be anxious about anything. Stand firm with Jesus.
Description If you suffer from depression, you are not alone. Many deeply spiritual men and women have experienced depression. Can anything good come out of these dark times of depression? God can use all of our life experiences. Psalm 42 gives us insights in how to deal with our own seasons of darkness.
The Gift Exchange: Give God Your Grief and He'll Give You Joy
Description This side of eternity, grief is a reality. If you have not already, at some point you will experience grief. Our normal plan for dealing with our grief is to wait silently. We deny our losses. We delay our pain. We distract ourselves.
God's plan for our grief is to talk to Him about it. To acknowledge the reality of our pain. To tell Him about our pain and losses. And to hear from Him about His comfort.
When we give God our grief, He gives us His joy. God comforts us now by reminding us that He has walked through grief Himself. God comforts us later by removing every reason for grieving for all of eternity.
Grace - God's Gift
Description Grace is like a diamond. It has so many facets. We are saved by the grace of God. Focus on five aspects of Saving Grace. How is it you know for sure you are going to heaven when you die?
What To Do On the Bad Days
Description When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do? It is a relevant question and we can find answers from a story of David as we study Psalm 11. There are some things we must determine and choose. Then we must let God handle it. What to do on the bad days…trust a faithful God.
Pray, Don't Panic
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Description Pray, don't panic. Be anxious for nothing. Since time has begun the world has faced illness and disease, tragedies and catastrophies. We always want to be in control, but sometimes things get out of control.
What are the things we can not control? Crises, our country, our citizens, our critics, and our circumstances.
What are the things we can control? Our time in the Word and prayer, our thoughts, our tongue, our unrest, our time and our treasure. We can only control these with the power of the Holy Spirit active in our lives.
What are the things only Jesus can control? The kings heart is in the hand of the Lord. He controls it all. All things were made through Him and He is working on our behalf.
Three things to think about: Trouble, we can help others. Truth, not the media hype. Fear, if you have been panicked, repent and remember His Word. Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer let your requests be known to God. Run to Jesus.
Philippians - Joy in Harmony
Session 4 of a 4-week study in Philippians. Remember joy comes from unity. Unity is living in and at peace with one another. What does peace do? Through Christ it watches over our heart, mind, body and soul.
Description Five Goals for Growing Deeper with God:
Forget the Past
Secure a Hold
Choose Your Influencers
Philippians - Joy in Position
Philippians - Joy In Being There
Philippians - Joy in Thankfulness
Description Session 1 of a 4-week study in Philippians. Paul writes from jail to believers in Philippi. He encourages unity through love and the result is joy. Do we need to check our level of joy? Listen to our own voices and our own thoughts.
The Gift Exchange: Give God Your Worry and He Will Give You Peace
Description Jesus addresses worry in the Sermon on the Mount. Worry is allowing our mind to dwell on potentially negative outcomes beyond our actual control. Jesus says several things about worry: It is unatural, unhelpful and unchristian.
How do we give God our worry and experience His peace?
Let Jesus be King. Make God's kingdom purpose your primary concern.
Live a day at a time.
Lean on the faithfulness of God. Talk to him about it.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Philippians 4:6 NLT
Two things Paul says to do with worry:
Tell God about it
Thank God for what He has done - Gratifude refocuses the mind
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 NLT
Dwell on God's promises, not your problems. Let Jesus be King, live a day at a time, and lean on God's faithfulness. He will guard your heart and your mind with peace.
Description To fast or not to fast? That's the question. Let me begin by sharing with you three reasons not to fast. Be careful not to conclude that I am saying fasting is not a valid practice for today.
To be noticed by men.
To get whatever you want from your deep-pocketed God.
If you don't understand it.
Having covered the reasons not to fast, let me give you six reasons why you should fast.
Fasting is feasting on God.
You are giving yourself to prayer over an urgent matter.
Your food is to do the will of the Fasther.
You want to express sorrow for your sin.
You want to express a desire to share in Christ's suffering for men.
You want to express a desire for Christ to come back.
Now, to fast or not to fast. What will your answer be?
Description Our identity in Christ implies influence for Christ. "You ARE the salt of the earth...you ARE the light of the world." Christians must permeate society as agents of redemption.
We are the Salt of the Earth Christians delay decay. The purpose of salt is to fight deterioration, and therefore it must not itself deteriorate. "Loses its saltiness" reads literally "is defiled." Believers who fail to arrest corruption become worthless as agents of change and redemption.
We are the Light of the World Lights is visible. There is no excuse for secret discipleship. "A city set on a hill cannot be hid."
We must remain active preservative agents in calling the world to listen to God. How are we to be salt and light? We have the power of Christ to be an influence for Christ.
We have the power of prayer.
We have the power of truth.
We have the power of example.
We have the power of group.
We have a a part to play and the power to play it.
Description The Great Commission Today let's look at Matthew's account of what Jesus said before he ascends to heaven. The New Testament was originally written in Greek, which is very different from the English language. Because of the Greek words used in the Great Commission, I think it can be summed up by saying, "Go and Make".
The Greek word for "make." It's only used four times in the New Testament. It has a very specific focus on instructing and teaching a person. Each one of us is called to "go and make." We go, but I'm not sure we are doing a good job of making. Jesus recreated Himself in people. He was relational with His disciples. Jesus is our model.
Are you "going and making"? We are constantly going, but are we constantly making? Are we living a lifestyle where we are teaching others to following Christ. Jesus gave correction with those He taught. He could only do that because of relationship. There can be no discipleship without relationship. Where are you in your relationships? Plant seeds and show people the love of God that has been shown to you. Offer something that people will follow. Love people the way you are called to.
Let's love, relate, and disciple differently in the coming year. Let's GO and MAKE!
Description There is a basic fact of life - we are going to be hurt by someone. There's nothing complicated about forgiveness. It's in the application that we find difficulty.
Why should we forgive?
Because God has forgiven us. Ephesians 4:32
Resentment doesn't work. Resentment always hurts us more than the person we are resenting. Resentment is unreasonable, unhelpful, and is unhealthy. It never changes what has happened and is the single most destructive emotion we can have.
Because we need forgiveness. Forgiveness is a two-way street. What we sow is what we are going to reap.
Forgiveness does not and is not:
Minimize the offense. It doesn't pretend the offense never happened. It really did hurt.
Immediately restore trust. Trust is earned and therefore takes time.
Mean there won't be changes. Once harm has been done, things will never return to normal. Forgiveness is the starting point that will allow for a new beginning, a new normal.
Forgetting. It is choosing to no longery remember the offense against them. Forgivness is choosing to love.
How can we experience freedom that comes through offering forgiveness?
Recognize we are imperfect. We all have intentionally and unintentionally wronged people. Unforgiveness is a sin. When we confess our sin, God is faithful to forgive.
Relinquish our right to get even. Offering forgiveness is an ongoing process. How many times should we forgive? An infinite amount of times until the job of forgiveness is done. When is that? When we reach the point that it doesn't eat our guts out every time we think about it. Release our right to get even and let God settle the score His way.
Respond to evil with good. Love, do good, bless, and pray for those who hurt us.
Refocus on God's plan. Refocus on God's purpose for your life. We become exactly like what we focus on. Put our hearts right with God. Reach out to God. Face life again. The Holy Spirit will empower us to be overcomers.
Forgiveness calls for a decision. We choose to forgive. When we forgive, we'll receive the fullness of God's forgiveness in our lives.
Description Jesus said, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me." Mark 8:34 NLT These words of Jesus demand our full commitment to Him. To really follow Jesus in ALL (words, deeds, actions), we need to put aside our selfish desires and give our lives to Him.
Nothing is more important than our eternal soul. Make the decision now. The Good News is Jesus paid the price for our sin. But when we accept Jesus as Lord, we can no longer live however we want. Ask God to empower us with the Holy Spirit to take up our cross.
Have you taken up your cross? It is only when we crucify self that we live in genuine repentance. Repentance is a change of mind. When we change our mind, we also change our attitude, then we are likely to change our actions.We we change our minds about sinful behavior, we make the promise to God to stop loving only self, we promise to consider the needs of others, and we promise to serve Him placing His will and purpose above our own. It's a change of mind and attitude evident in our actions. Not just outward behavior modification, but deep inward transformation of the heart.
There is a cost involved in following Jesus. True discipleship is demanding. Place Him first. Christ gave everything for our salvation. Are you willing to take up your cross for Him?
The Old Covenant It was a system of laws, codes, rituals, and observances. Every time the people failed to live by the standards, they had to offer a sacrifice to God. It was impossible to completely follow the rules. Everyone was guilty. The purpose was to show people that they were guilty before God and needed a Savior.
The New Covenant Jesus became the only sacrifice that could pay the price for our sin! It is finished! No other sacrifices were required. It is finished!
The New Covenant between God and you Forgiveness for our sins. Promise of eternal life. Assurance of heaven. It is finished. What is our part of the covenant? To believe and receive by faith what Jesus did for us! Then in His strength and power live for Him and tell others about Him.
Description One Encounter with Jesus Can Change Everything Two times in Scripture we are told Jesus was amazed. Faith was the focus of His amazement. Faith simply put, is trust. It's an action word. We place our faith or trust in Jesus. Our faith is based on God's character, God's track record, and God's Word.
The Story of the Roman Centurion Let's look at why Jesus was amazed. The Centurion was one of the most unlikely people you would ever expect to amaze Jesus. The Centurion's servant is sick and near death, but he can't heal him.The elders of the Jews try to convince Jesus that because of how good this man is...he deserves a miracle. The Centurion wanted Jesus to heal his slave...he just didn't want Jesus to come. This man has a clear understanding of who Jesus is. He recognizes that Jesus has authority in the spirit world to heal. Jesus was amazed at his faith. Then Jesus healed the servant without saying a word.
You Don't Need A Word Faith is all that is needed. By faith possess what God has already provided. John 19:30 says, "It is finished." According to Ephesians Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. He has blessed us with every blessing in heaven because we belong to Christ.
God Honors Simple Trust Faith honors God and God honors faith. You can pray here and miracles can happen there!
Walking in Peace
Description With everything thing that is happening around us today, it may not feel like this is a peaceful journey. Let’s look at what it means to be “Walking with Jesus along the road to peace.” True peace is recognizing God’s presence in our life. He is in control. Peace is not passive, it is powerful!
Description No one really likes to hear a sermon about money, but in Scripture there are more than 2,000 verses that deal with money or possessions. So based on that it is a subject that needs to be talked about. In 1 Timothy we read that the love of money, not money, is the root of all kinds of evil. We all realize money is needed to live, so money in itself is not evil.
What you do with your money shows what you value with your heart. According to Luke 12, where your money goes your heart goes. So money is an indicator of where your heart is at. So let's talk about a some things you should do in regards to money.
Make a budget. Proverbs says the plans of the diligent leads to profit. A budget is simply a written plan. Track your spending, see where your money goes, and establish a budget.
Save for the future This is what Proverbs has to say - He who gathers little by little makes it grow. The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends everything. Ask yourself, "Am I saving money?"
Avoid debt The rich rule over the poor and the slave to the lender. We are better off to avoid consumer debt.
Put God first in your finances Honor the Lord with you wealth and your first fruits. The generous never seem to go without and are characterized by an joyful, loving spirit. Tithe simply means 10%. Why should we tithe? Out of gratitude for the past, to keep priorities straight for today, and demonstrate faith for tomorrow.
Money will not make you happy Instead of looking to wealth for fulfillment, look to God. Make sure your heart treasures God!
Description Rebuild, Repair, Restore. For this to happen, we must learn to love one another.
Love One Another Love unconditionally. This is a sign that we are true disciples.1 Corinthians 13 describes agape love.
Accept One Another Accept each other as Jesus accepted us. Acceptance means acknowledging that other people are different than you, and not allowing that to stop you from loving them.
Forgive One Another Forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us. And keep forgiving. Don't stop. How do we deal with offenses and hurts? Go only to that person. Do not talk to someone else about the hurt or offense. Pray first.
Description Nicodemus came to Jesus at night asking questions. He started with a bit of flattery, but Jesus knows what is in a man. Jesus knows Nicodemus is a man who seeks truth. So he comes at him head on with the truth - no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
Nicodemus asks, "How can this be?" Jesus seems to be messing with Nicodemus' head a bit. He is not only curious, but likely getting a little confused. And what Jesus is basically saying to him is: "you have read the scripture Nicodemus; this is not new stuff that I am telling you, remember the prophets?"
As Jesus continues to share scripture he goes on to tell Nicodemus not to try too hard to figure it all out because it's kind of like attempting to follow the wind. But Nicodemus continues to ask questions, "How can this be?" Then if he is not confused enough, he hears for probably the first time "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." This the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deed were evil. You must be born again.
So once again, the curious Nicodemus leaves as confused Nicodemus. It's not about what you have learned or what you did, it is considering what Jesus has done through the cross. It is by grace you have been saved through faith, it is a gift from God. Lift the name of Jesus high in your heart. Accept the full Gospel - the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It may be simple, but it is not easy - the hardest journey is from your head to your heart. If your actions are not for God they are evil - if you are not with God you are against Him. You must be born again.
It is only through the sacrifice of Christ that you can ever approach the throne of God. When you are born again, you become a temple for the Holy Spirit to reside and you can commune with God all the time.
If you truly have spiritual rebirth you will be motivated to do spiriual things: Prayer is a vital connection between your spirit and God's Spirit. Read the Bible. The Word of God will give you truth that can change your life. Focus on the Will of God rather than the will of self.
Description The Holy Spirit is a Person. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead. He is omnipresent (everywhere). He is Omnipotent (all powerful). He is Omniscient (all knowing).The Holy Spirit is our Helper Advocate. He will do the same for us as Jesus did for His disciples. Jesus said that because He is going to the Father, we will be able to do greater things. (John 14:12)
The Work of the Holy Spirit as Executor The Holy Spirit is carrying out Jesus' wishes for our lives and the life of the church. Through time spent in God's Word and prayer, the Holy Spirit reveals God's will. The Holy Spirit dispenses the promises of God along with gifts and talents those who would be heirs of salvation. General promises of god become specific promises through the Holy Spirit's instructions. When our minds are perplexed, He gives answers; when we need an encouraging promise, He provides God's Word; when we are lost, He shows us the way. He is responsible to go out and find those whoare potential heirs. He bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God.
The Work of the Holy Spirit as Energizer God has infused us with His divine power. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God has given us the victory and the power to demolish all the attacks against us. If we are held by any sort of bondage - addiction, fear, depression, discouragement, etc. - the power of the Holy Spirit can blast apart those chains that bind us.
The Work of the Holy Spirit as Equipper The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Holy Spirit reproduces within us the qualities of Christ's character. There are also different kinds of spiritual gifts and the Holy Spirit decides which gift each person should have. And there are spiritual weapons: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of peace, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, and praying in the Spirit. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood. Be strong in the Lord.
The Work of the Holy Spirit as Encourager The Father has given us a Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor-Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) to be with us forever.
When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, He fills us with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit by His divine power will provide us with everything we are going to need to make a difference and live effective lives for God's Kingdom.
Description What is a dream? A condition or achievement that is longed for, an aspiration.
A dream is an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it. ~John Maxwell.
Let Joseph's story speak to your heart. Joseph was a dreamer. Realize God has good plans for your life. If you've given up on dreams, it's time to dream again. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but where dreams come true, there is life and joy. Write down the dreams, hopes and desires you have in your heart. Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. God wants us to dream big dreams!
To dream extraordinary dreams, we must know the extraordinary love of God. Behold the manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God. 1 John 3:1
Even if our dream is from the Lord, there will be opposition. Don't let someone else's disapproval or jealousy hinder you from dreaming! There are numerous examples of dreamers who overcame opposition to realize their dreams.
The rest of Joseph's story: He was thrown into a pit and sold into slavery by his brothers. He ended up working for Potiphar and was falsely accused of raping his wife. He ended up in prision...but the Lord was with Joseph. Finally, he ended up working for Pharoah in the palace and his dream came true.
Take the dream test. Discover what your dream is, then do whatever it takes to have what you want!
A Word for Today
Description God has spoken a word to my heart and I believe it’s also a word for you too. It’s about traditions. Life is crazy now. And it will probably never look the same again, it will be different. There is a shaking going on in the world today, in and outside of the church. What does that mean for us?
I Am the Lord
Description Like the U.S., Israel was facing its worst national crisis. Was God relevant? Was He big enough? Could He help? They knew Him as God Almighty, but He wanted them to know Him as Lord. Let’s look together and discover what that really means and realize He wants the same for me and you.
Description Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12. The hardest thing to hand over to God is our time.
Walk Circumspectly To look round about on all hands; to be every way watchful, wary, and cautious, in order to avoid danger and discern enemies.Questions: Have I faithfully served God with the time He has given me? Have I shown God to those around me? The average Christian spends less than 15 minutes a week in prayer. Our day also should be invested in neighbors. We must prioritize our lives.
Redeeming the Time To buy up those moments others seem to throw away. Seizing opportunities to rescue or recover our time from waste. Let time be your chief commodity. Time is that on which eternity depends.
Relationships Require Our Time Time with people: We are not meant to be solitary creatures. We are to be social creatures. Godly relationships are important to our maturity as Christians. Having relationships requires time. Relationships are intentional. Time with God: We do not learn to walk with God in five minute devos. Devotions can't take the place of the Bible. The early church was continually devoted to the apostles' teaching and fellowship.
We all have 24 hours a day. Let us use our time wisely.
Description Changing the world requires consistent choices to follow Christ daily. Let's explore some ways we can do that.
Dream Big, Act Small Be kind, be tenderhearted, and forgive each other. Think about those people who have changed history. In the case where change was for the good, we see small steps and people who didn't act alone. The most powerful change is slow and steady. The church gives us support and accountability. Change in the world happens one person at a time.
Recognize Eternal True togetherness means a shared purpose. The real battle is a spiritual one. Ephesians encourages us to be strong in the Lord and His power putting on the armor of God and also to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests for all the Lord's people.
Stay Connected Hebrews exhorts us to meet together and encourage one another. Isolation kills. Even Jesus surrounded himself with a group of people. We need real connection and authentic relationships. Living as part of God's family matters. Together we find peace, experience love, grow stronger, and we can change the world!