Monday, October 16, 2017

Becoming an "All-In" Man, 1: Courageous Men

Question it: What makes you want to give up & move on, rather than waiting for the right thing for the right reason?

Read it: Acts 2:1-4 (NIV) 1  When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Understand it: THIS was the beginning of the Church. The Holy Spirit was showing up just like Jesus had promised. In Acts 1, Jesus told them to go to Jerusalem and WAIT for the promise that was coming. He told them to wait. He spoke to them with authority, but also with expectation, knowing what was coming if they did what He had said. He knew their inclinations to move on when things didn’t go their way, or in the timing they expected.

All of the disciples had been told many times what would happen to Jesus, even though they had their own ideas of what Messiah should be. They wanted to political rescue, but Jesus came to restore an even greater Kingdom & purpose. They deserted Him in prayer. They fled when He was taken captive. They denied Him when questioned. All but one was absent at the cross. Peter resorted back to what he had known before. He turned back to a previous occupation.

Knowing all of this, Jesus told them to wait. He knew they’d be challenged. He knew they’d be tempted. He knew their inclinations to fix things, and if they couldn’t fix it, to abandon it. But He knew what was on the other side of the waiting.

Men are created & called of God to be courageous, to wait & believe, even when all else is calling or pushing them away. From the beginning in the garden, Satan has attacked the purpose & leadership of men. He uses those closest to them, thus causing them to question their own leadership, value, and influence. When they give into those questions, it’s a lot easier to turn & go.

God has called each of you as men to stand up, courageously, in Him. When you are weak, He is strong. When want to go, know that the enemy has gotten wind of something great on the other side. Don’t give up what God has for you, even before you see it & receive it. Wait expectantly. Trust completely. Stand confidently. Be courageous.

Study It:

2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV) 16  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV) 9  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Revelation 2:3 (NIV) 3  You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Acts 26:22 (NIV) 22  But I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen--

James 1:2-4 (NIV) 2  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Live It: What will I do with this?

1.    Where in my life am I tempted to back up, sit down, or even quit?

2.    What is it about waiting for things to happen that is the hardest for me to accept?

3.    What has God taught me through the moments that I’d have rather called it “done”?

4.    How is my faith & trust in Christ evident when I am faced with a situation, even close to home, where my buttons are pushed?

5.    How can I stand courageously when it feels like I’m attacked & beaten up in the “world” I’m trying to lead?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Beleive for Your Breakthrough.

"And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon" (Philippian 2:24).

Have you ever been around people who seemed to be stuck in some cycle between prayer requests and complaining? They complain about all that is going wrong with just about everything, but do it in a way that puts the burden of their answer on you to pray. There's a lot of facts of what's going on, but not a lot of faith to really believe it can change. Have you ever done the same?

Paul wrote to the Philippian church while in chains, healing from torturous wounds, while sharing his love and concern for them. He shared about his own chains, but not for the purpose of getting their sympathy, but of joining together in faith. 

Paul wrote, "...and I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon." He was determined that his own breakthrough was coming soon. He didn't just think it or feel it. He was confident of its imminent reality. His confidence wasn't in fate or feeling, but a faith that was deeply rooted in the Lord. He didn't expect people to believe anything more for his life than he was already confidently believing for himself.

It's difficult for people to believe for a breakthrough in your life UNTIL you become confident that a breakthrough is coming! Stop complaining. God won't give you something you can't believe for. Everything you receive, you receive it from God by faith. Be encouraged in where you are and what you're facing. BELIEVE that God has a breakthrough moment for your life. Even in the cell of your circumstance, be confident in the Lord that you are coming out! You don't have to know how, when, or why, just know that it's soon. "Soon" is according to the perfect timing & purpose of God. But what you can have NOW, is the assurance that He is with you.

The peace of God works in faith, not in forcing people to feel the pain you feel. Breakthrough is coming when your confidence is in HE who brings it, not just in THEY who are praying for it.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Success through Humility.

"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name..." (Philippians 2:9).

Success, honor, power, and position are words synonymous with first world culture. One can't watch cartoons without being indoctrinated with the concept that bigger is better, rule over people, and only the strong survive. Yet, Jesus showed strength in a form very different from that people had experienced or expected. It was and is a strength that continues to challenge those who long for success.

Jesus, who was and will always be God, chose to surrender the application of His deity, His "God-ness" while He was on earth before His crucifixion. He humbled Himself as a man, to all that men and women would face. He did this for many reasons, but one in particular to show the greatest strength is not found in wielding power, but in yielding to a Greater Power. Jesus humbled Himself before God the Father.

Jesus' success was found in the "lowest place." He came as a baby and lived as a servant. He was found trustworthy in His humility. He was the Son of God, yet lived as a son of man. He went to the cross of crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for the generations that might never acknowledge Him and for the untold multitudes that would. He excelled at the lowest place and therefore, by God the Father, was lifted up to the Highest place.

When you find success at the lowest place, God can trust you with success at any place! Humility comes before honor. Ambition and drive are great elements to embody, but never at the expense of humility and surrender. If you want to rise to a higher place, how are you doing at the "lower" place? Are you modeling excellence at the level God has for you now? Are you doing ALL that you know to do where you are? Are you surrendered to the authority and leadership you have? 

God has designed you for where you are so that you can learn all there is to learn, SO THAT He can raise you up. You can't go to the next level until you have exhausted every lesson God wants you to learn at this level. It's not because you're not good enough. It may be because you've not yet let Him be GOD enough.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Python of Fear.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).

Fear has the power to wrap itself around you in such a way that doesn't even seem noticeable until you find your self trapped within its grip. It squeezes slowly until the look in your eyes knows that there is no way out. Panic sets in and you begin to fight in an erratic manner that only seems to strengthen the hold. There's now way out.

God spoke the words of Isaiah 41:10 to a people who had found themselves in the same hold of the same python of fear. They had given into their fears and their erratic behavior had led them into exile, away from the promised land God had miraculously provided. 

But now, here, He speaks to them words of truth and power that have the potential of greater influence in both their present and their future. "So do not fear, for I am with you." Fear has no power in the presence of God. God is love and perfect love drives out all fear, just as flipping the light switch sees the power of light instantly driving out the influence of darkness.

"I am your God." When you know who He is and where He is, you will find what He has for you. He is right where you are. He is your God, and He has all power, strength, and courage for where you are and for what you now face. He holds you in the palm of the strongest hand one could ever imagine. The same hand that holds the world in perfect orbit is holding you.

Don't give into the panic of the python. Fear is real, but the reality of God is more than real. Look to Jesus. Keep your eyes focused on who He is, where He is, and what you have in Him. When you are confident in who you are in Him, the power of the python is broken. Fear cannot withstand the power one has when they know the authority they have in having the mind of Christ! No fear.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Pattern is the Problem.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2, NIV).

Have you ever found yourself deeply conflicted by what you want and what you seem to get? You see people around you and it has become second nature to look at them and identify all they could do to change and how that would positively impact you for the better. There are times it seems easy to point the fingers at what others, especially those closest to you, need to accomplish, and how they will better please God at the same time. But then, you slow down and begin to realize, why do they all seem to have peace and I'm the one with the pain?

Many times, the conflict you are experiencing isn't so much between you and another person, but between the Spirit of God in you and the patterns of your own mindsets. Patterns are strategic. They are habitual. They look a certain way and they feel safe. There is definition to a pattern. Patterns give a sense of security and normalcy, even though that pattern may be based on a wrong reality. 

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Romans. Paul knew something about wrong patterns. As a Pharisee, Paul was religious, strategic, and passionate about what he believed. He knew the Scriptures, he was accustomed to the Law, and He was proficient in articulating what needed to be known. And yet, none of that brought him the full peace that only came when he surrendered his mindset patterns to be renewed by Jesus. 

Here's a fact. Your present will not change until the pattern of your mind is changed. You may be in the Word of God, but until the Word of God is fully in you, and you apply it by faith beyond your feelings, there will be no change. Your mind has to be renewed from the patterns you have been used to, that have given you the definition that makes you feel safe. They aren't safe. You don't have peace. Let God's truth RENEW your mind. Don't just let read the Bible. Let the Bible read you. Let it show you what you need to know. Let the Holy Spirit reveal the truth of what your feeling, the truth about why you're feeling it, and how you can surrender the patterns of your mind to the reality of His presence. When the pattern is surrendered, the pain can be healed.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Say So.

“Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets’” (Luke 5:5, NIV).

These were the first words recorded in Luke’s gospel from the man who would have much to say. Peter was a living paradox. He seem to live and speak from polarizing extremes, and yet would find such a place of influence in the mission of God’s heart for the world. 

These first words were sounded with what appears to be “defensiveness.” Jesus had asked him to do something that would have never made sense to a sane and experienced fishermen. Fish don’t live at the tops of the water during the daytime. They rest in the depths as to escape the heat of the sun.

Peter was defensive and then descriptive. He explained to Jesus why this would never work. It had been tried when conditions were right and still failed. Doing it again now would accomplish nothing better. 

“But because you say so…” Peter surrendered all that he knew, all that he felt, and all that he saw. There was something different about the words Jesus had spoken. Little did he know at that moment, but he had heard and was responding to the voice of God. That voice would change his life forever.

When God speaks, don't let a defensive reaction rob you of His divine invtervention. It’s tempting to argue why something will not work, how you’ve tried it time and again, and how futile doing another time would be. But as Peter chose to do in his moment, learn to do in your moment. Trade your “say so” for His “say so.” Because HE SAYS to do it, you will do it. Because HE SAYS you are strong, then you are strong, even when you feel weak. Because HE SAYS you are called, then you are called, even though you feel unqualified. Because HE SAYS keep trying, then you will keep trying, even though it seems that your efforts are useless. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your ears on His “say so,” and continue to respond to His word with all obedience.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Nexus, 11: Slow Down.

"Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.  So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves" (Romans 14:20‭-‬22, NIV).

You know that feeling, right? The one where you know that you are right, the other person is slightly off, or maybe they are completely off. If they would just listen to one more point of reason they would get where you are coming from. Have you ever thought that, only to find that the one more point only led to more "one more points" that became the gateway into an argument that became defensive and divisive? Working too hard to prove a point can become a nexus breaker of gigantic proportion. 

Such was Paul's point in regards to those who had a conviction not to eat food that had been considered unclean, yet others felt free to do so through what Christ had accomplished and had God had spoken to Peter. Jesus had fulfilled the Law, but some were not yet there in their faith or understanding. Others chose to continue to oberseve certain aspects of the Law out of their own conviction. The temptation to turn personal conviction into a fight to prove a point is opposite of who Jesus is and what He came to do. 

Where the Bible is as clear as crystal, let there be no doubt. WHere the Bible is as clear as crystal through YOUR INTERPRETATION and PERSONAL CONVICTION, slow down. Study and understand what the Bible is saying. Listen to those you are in connection with and try to understand what they are saying. You'll never earn the right to be heard if you never take the time to listen. Making your point at the cost of destroying relationship isn not why He came. If you want to prove a point, be sure not to cancel it out with a wrong attitude, with harsh words, or a motivation that is more about you than it is about Jesus or others. The devil is out to destroy nexus, and he specializes in using those who are inside the connection to do it. Resist the temptation to prove your own point and you deny him the pleasure of his sinister plot. Take time to listen to others and you will find time to be heard.