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Friday, October 28, 2016

Even When The Messenger Is Flawed, The Message Is Still Flawless!

Even when the messenger is flawed, the Message is still flawless!  The failure of the messenger does not change the truth of the message.  The Christian who is in a seeker's life every day has far more impact than any Christian in the spotlight. I am the face, the voice, the proof of Jesus to the unbelievers in my personal world for better or for worse. It's always important that I walk the talk.

I can think of two ways that we're failing the world and our Lord. One has to do with a flawed message that obscures the true Message. Here are three reasons why I think the light is so often obscured.

First, FLAWED MESSENGERS: Over and over, a watching world sees well-known Christians suddenly disgraced by a dark secret. You can probably think of some pastors, mega church "stars," TV personalities, athletes, politicians. And folks who don't like the message can now find another "hypocrite" to hide behind.

The failure of the messenger does not change the truth of the message. Jesus said, "Follow Me." Not follow My followers. He said, "I am the Way" (John 14:6). Not, "I will show you the way." He told us, "I am the resurrection and the life...he who believes in Me will live, even though he dies" (John 11:25). Not, believe in someone who practices the Christian religion. No, He said, "Believe in Me. Follow Me." Therefore, I don’t want you to think I’m letting folks off the hook.

Even when the messenger is flawed, the Message is still flawless! Jesus made it all about Jesus. So while a hypocrite might provide an excuse for not believing, they don't provide a valid reason. Because it's what we do (personally) with Jesus that determines our eternity. In fact, that's the question you will face when you see God. "What did you do with My Son who died on a cross for you?" So, this does not take away people (or unbelievers) personal accountability to receive, follow and obey Christ. But we are His messengers with His message of salvation, healing, deliverance and change, and when we handle the message haphazardly, it causes harm to them that have yet to believe.

First, each Jesus-follower's life is either a reason for someone to check out Jesus or check out on Jesus. You see, if I drift away from Him, I take watching unbelievers with me. That's why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:12, "…We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ." (NLT) And Peter said, "Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when He judges the world." (1 Peter 2:12 NLT). So, my little "sin fling" or spiritual detour will cost me God's blessing. However, what’s even more important is that it could also cost those watching me their eternity!

Then secondly, every time a public Christian is discredited, the importance of the everyday Christian is elevated. The Christian who is in a seeker's life every day has far more impact than any Christian in the spotlight. I am the face, the voice, the proof of Jesus to the unbelievers in my personal world for better or for worse. It's always important that I walk the talk.

Thirdly, I think our message can be obscured by our BAGGAGE. The Gospel is compelling when it's just the Gospel. But some people never get to the Gospel because of the baggage we encumber it with: church, denomination, culture wars, rules, condemning people's lifestyles. However, the fact remains, it's all about Jesus! Even Jesus made it all about Jesus with His simple invitation; "Follow Me" (Mark 1:17). "Come to Me" (Matthew 11:28). "Believe in Me" (John 14:1)
Believers, we play a huge part in the eternity of others. People listen to what we say about our Savior, but more importantly, they watch to see if we’re living what we say. Which reminds me of something I once read that said: “There are five Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, John - and the Christian. Most people never read the first four.” (Author Unknown) That observation, made a long time ago, could not be truer today. I, and you, are Living Epistles; we’re Human Bibles that unbelievers are reading daily, whether we’re at work, in church, in the Laundromat, in traffic, or on a Friday orSaturday night. People are reading us as the Word and Work of God.

If our world's getting darker, then something must be wrong with what folks are "reading," in the Christians - the messengers – the light of the world - they know. And truth is, the problem isn’t the message, and it’s not about the messenger, but actually, with the way the messenger represents the message.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Day We Stop Asking God For Help is the Day We Start Asking For Trouble.

This is a week of special prayers. Dear Lord please wrap your arms around those that are hurting today, and let them feel how much You love them. May God open the heavens, and break through the clouds, and deliver the answer you have been waiting for.  So many of us have made our request known to Christ, there are many looking for prayers to be answered. We bring You our burdens and You know our situation.  Many times in our life we have struggled and needed You to get us through. 

The devil does not know what to do with somebody who just WON'T GIVE UP!   Satan chances are hopeless as long as we stay in the Word & Will of God. Hard times will consistently be there, but so will CHRIST.  Like a slingshot, the farther we pull back into God, the farther He will launch us.

You may be walking in darkness this today and wondering where Jesus is.  You may be facing some of the darkest days of your life right now.  Let me remind you that our God is ever with you.  Heb.13:5! Let me remind you that even in the darkest hours of life God is still God and He is still in control of your life. Allow Him to carry you in His arms and comfort you in the time of storm. Even the darkest hours of life cannot hide you from the face of God.  He is there even when you cannot see Him.

God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope. You always brought comfort to our hearts and gave us the strength and the will to carry on. May You increase our faith and strengthen our heart, and overwhelm us with Your grace.  May you know deep within that God is with you, for you and will never let you go.  He is mighty to save.  Rest well tonight knowing that God has heard your prayer.  Father today we declare that we trust you. We trust Your faithfulness and Your goodness. 

We know that You are working things out in our favor and Your timing. We declare that through faith and patience, we will inherit every promise You have for us in Jesus name.  The Day We Stop Asking God For Help is the Day We Start Asking For Trouble. 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Friday, October 14, 2016

We Follow Someone Who Was Beaten, Mocked and Ultimately Executed. He Simply Made Us A Promise. That's All, But It's Enough.

The safest place in the world really is in the will of God.  It's dangerous to be out of the will of God. You become prey for Satan to devour. You give the enemy operating rights when you are in his territory and living a life that pleases him. Anything that opposes the laws of God pleases Satan.  Don’t misunderstand that to live in the will of God mean we are somehow “bullet-proof” if we are obediently following Jesus. We follow someone who was beaten, mocked and ultimately executed—and who invited us to take up OUR cross.  As Paul demonstrates, there is a cost in following Jesus... as Paul talks about this in (2 Cor 11:24-28). 

Living in the will of God may, in fact, be one of the wildest, most dangerous places you could imagine. He never promised you a rose garden. So what does God promise through these trials? His promise is simply this: He will never leave us or stop loving us. That's all. But it's enough. He is with you in the storm because He loves you. "There Is No Pit So Deep That He [God] Is Not Deeper Still."  The Lord is full of grace and mercy, but do not test the Lord. He will give you warning after warning. Do not take it for granted. No man knows the day or the hour. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!" (Psalm 91:1-2)

In order for God to bring you out, you have to let Him in. Know how He longs to hear your voice. We have to give God full access to every area of our life. Every room in our heart, He needs access. You have to surrender; withholding nothing. We have to leave some stuff behind, to get to the next level. Place it at Jesus feet, leave it there and don't pick it back up. Every problem is an opportunity to trust God. Finding answers in God isn't one way, it's the only way.  Need Peace; Trust God. Want to follow God's lead for your life? Let go of the negative stress factors! We can't live a positive life with constant worry. Sometimes we must accept that God has a better plan.  

Father; help me to decrease so that You may increase.  Increase my capacity for you. I want to grow. I want to be everything that You want me to be. I would like for it to be easy, but if it is not, don't let me run. If you want God to bring you out, you’ve got to let Him in. We have to trust God enough to let Him in. Some people don't want to give Him full access because of past hurts they want to hang onto, hold someone accountable, un-forgiveness, fear, hatred, anger, some people want to hang on this all of this stored baggage and God wants to bring you out.  He wants to bless us, but we hinder our own blessings when we won't give God full access to our situation. First, we must understand that God is and has always been in control, everything is under His control and is never out of His control. Anything under man's control can easily get out of control. 

Today, Jesus Christ is knocking, He's waiting for you to willingly give Him access to fix and clean up all of the rooms in your heart. TODAY HE IS SAYING I WANT TO BRING YOU OUT.  I AM YOUR SAFE PLACE.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

When God Gives You The Go Ahead: You Have To Move, Turn, Risk, Leap. Three Things Can Keep That From Happening

“You have stayed here long enough. TURN…” (Deuteronomy 2:3 TLB)

When God gives you the go ahead: You have to MOVE, TURN, RISK, LEAP, so what if it is uncomfortable, do it anyway. God Moves Are Never Wrong. But these 7 words are important. "When God gives you the go ahead".  When considering a move, seek the Lord and His perspective above all else. God’s plan for your life always involves your gifts, His timing, and being in the right place. But three things can keep that from happening:

1. Fear of Failing: (For some reason we’re under the impression that failures are final and fatal, and that is far from the truth. When you read the Bible from cover-to-cover you will quickly discover that all of God’s children failed at some point in time. Absolutely none of them were perfect. They failed as Kings, Priests, Prophets, Judges, Leaders, Fathers, Mothers, Sons, Daughters, Married, Single, Young and Old Alike. No one that is flesh and blood is exempt from failure! However, failure is not to be feared, it’s to be learned from so that you better appreciate the success when it does come);

2. Unwillingness to Leave Your Comfort Zone: (Sadly many people have not failed because of where they’ve gone, but because of where they’ve chosen to stay. Truth is, you can’t get THERE, remaining HERE! This means daily you have to challenge yourself to do, try and experience new, different, uncomfortable and unfamiliar things. You have to learn to broaden your circle by getting out of the box! No one fulfills their Calling in a Comfort Zone. Jesus walked the world over healing and delivering, but it was the shedding of His blood that brought salvation. And last I checked, the cross was not the most comfortable way to the crown, but He endured it. And whatever your cross is, endure it! Get out of your comfort zone, so you can finally fulfill your calling); and

3. Being Swayed by the Opinions of Others: (Another sad commentary is that many people accomplish only minimal greatness because they’re so busy ignoring Christ and listening to their Critics! If you are to do great things, you have to get past the opinions of people. And it doesn’t matter whether those opinions are good or bad. Even Jesus had Hosanna’s turn to Crucify Him by the same mouths! So likewise, you have to learn to do what God has called you to do, and be who He has called you to be, without the need for people opinions, validations, confirmations, seal of approval and pat on the back. When God gives the go ahead, only a fool allows others to stop him!

Remember: Use Your Gifts, Move in God’s Timing, and Make Sure You Are Always in the Right Place!  When considering a move, seek the Lord and His perspective above all else.

In focusing on our text, there came a point where in order to enter the Promised Land, God said to Israel, “You have traveled around this mountain long enough. Now TURN…” (NLV). Please understand that when you reach this point it’s crucial that you say yes to God and be willing to step out in faith! Whether God is directing you, or redirecting you, listen, heed and immediately obey! Think about it, and let’s be honest, we can all admit that we’ve stayed in places longer than we should have. And to be even more brutally honest, many of us have stayed in stuff we should’ve never been in, in the first place! But how much longer do you intend to miss God's greatness for your life?  When God gives you the go ahead: You have to MOVE, TURN, RISK, LEAP, so what if it is uncomfortable, do it anyway. God Moves Are Never Wrong.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Praise Is Intertwined With Thanksgiving, Worship Is Intertwined With Surrender. Worship Is Based In Who God Is, While Praise Is Based In What He Does

Our worship is never wasted, we have to learn to turn our worry into worship. It is not on the worshiper but on the One who is worshiped. Worship is an exercise of the human spirit that is directed primarily to God; Just as praise is intertwined with thanksgiving, worship is intertwined with surrender. 

I realized that even though they’re frequently used to mean the same thing, praise and worship are actually two very different ideas. The most basic difference is that Worship is based in who God is, While praise is based in what He does. Praise is about God, Worship is to God. Praise is opening up, Worship is entering in. Praise is boldly declaring, Worship is humbly bowing in the presence of a Holy God. Praise applauds what God has done, Worship is honoring God for who He is.

When we worship something, we declare that it is worthy (Psalm 145:3). We worship something when we act as if it has value. By nature, human beings are worshipers. Sometimes our worship is focused on that which is actually worthy of reverence (like God). Other times it is misdirected (for instance, we worship our work or our bank accounts or a celebrity or fashion or a political icon or a sports team).

Worship is a life response to the worthiness of its object. When we worship God, we do so in response to who He is (Psalm 52:9). Our attitudes and actions reflect that we believe the character and conduct of God to be worthy of praise and adoration. At times our worship is expressed through corporate singing, teaching, and tithing. It is also expressed in our daily lives through prayer, Scripture reading, acts of kindness, gratitude, pure thoughts, and the like.

God’s holiness is the one thing that separates us from Him. God is loving, but even a lost person can be a little bit loving sometimes. God is merciful, but even a lost person can sometimes be merciful. However, God is also holy, and nobody in the world can ever claim to be even a little bit holy. God is, by His very nature, something that we could never be no matter how hard we tried; that’s how much more impressive than us He is, and that’s why He deserves our worship.

The really great thing about God, and the thing that makes Him deserve worship even more, is that He doesn’t just sit up on His Holy stool and let that be the end of it. "There’s a theological conundrum called “immanence and transcendence.” What it means is that God is very near to us, all around us in fact, and we can easily call on Him just by saying His name. That’s called immanence. However, He’s also very far from us, because we can’t touch Him, and short of salvation through Christ, there’s no way we can even have a relationship with Him. That’s called transcendence. God’s holiness is the chief force behind His transcendence; our sin is what separates us from a high and holy God. However, His love and mercy are the driving forces behind His immanence. He came down to us, took the form of a lowly human, who got tired and hungry and frustrated, and then allowed Himself to be put to an unjust death simply to allow us a way of entering a relationship with Him – that’s how incomparably huge His love and mercy are". This is all in addition to the worship He deserves because of His holiness!

Praise, on the other hand, is based in how God’s attributes (“who God is”) impact me in my life. For example, I worship God because He is loving. I praise Him because that love has manifested itself in the form of salvation and in constant companionship and encouragement no matter how badly I mess up. I worship God because He is holy; I praise Him because He has reconciled me to Himself through the death of His sinless Son. I worship Him because of His mercy; I praise Him because His mercy shows itself in the form of forgiveness of all my sins, past, present, and future.

Praise is also addressed in many of the Psalms. Take 139:14, which says, “I praise you, oh God, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Note that: I praise you “because.” Praise is grounded in what God does. Psalm 9:11 elaborates: “Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what He has done.” Again, the theme of praise is directly connected to “what He has done.” 

By praising God, you release your faith in His ability to take care of you and your needs so you’ll worry less and sleep better. Your family will be blessed for your sake-some examples of this may be your husband and children being protected from harm, your husband or wife if married, getting a raise at his or her job or making decisions that impacts your family in a positive way.

As you faithfully continue to praise God, increased blessings will start to appear in your life (Psalms 84:11). The suit you have been wanting goes on sale, your spouse buys you the music CD you’ve been wanting or your friend gives you a gift certificate to your favorite bookstore. Eventually, you will no longer struggle to make the house payments nor worry about your lights getting shut off.

You’ll see increased answers to your prayers. Praising God with a sincere heart, gives you favor with Him and increases your confidence in His willingness to bless you. The Word of God say that we are to worship Him in spirit and truth. We do not worship in spirit in one setting and in truth in another. We are in both at once.

Our spirit is the core of who we are. It is the center of our volition and our emotions. We also know that God is a spiritual being. To worship in spirit, then, is to do something that is beyond the physical. We do not worship by simply bowing our knees; we worship through a heart posture (Psalm 51:17). And our worship is in line with the worship going on in heaven (Psalm 148:1-2; Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 4:8).

Worshiping in truth means that we worship based on truth (see Romans 10:2). This includes the truth about who God is and what He does, hence why He is worthy of worship. It also includes the truth about our circumstances. We worship God even when we are experiencing heartache. When we worship Him, we do not forget about our hurt, but we worship even in the truth of our hurt. We also worship in joyful circumstances. Truth itself can be a means of worship; we worship God when we declare His truth.

To worship God in spirit and in truth, then, is to declare that God is worthy of our reverence. We do this both through our emotional core and in light of reality. We worship God based on the truth of who He is, the truth of who we are, the truth of what God does, and the truth of what is going on in our world. We do it with a heart inclined toward God and in submission to Him. We worship God when our attitudes, actions, and words declare that He is worthy of our praise.

J.P. Olson

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

You Can't Fall If You Never Climb

Great Things never come from comfort zones.  You can’t fall if you never climb. You can't lose if you don't try, right? You can't fall if you don't take a stand, right? You can't lose your balance if you never climb, right? So you don't try for fear of falling. Jesus says our choices are clear. There is the voice of adventure, God's adventure. It whispers, Follow Me. There are hearts to touch, souls to save, songs to sing, prayers to pray and you can be a part of it all. Everything that's worth anything has to pass a test. We will be tested in God.  Don’t worry that you’re not strong enough before you begin. It's during the climb that God makes you strong. Thank You Lord for not giving up on us. Thank You for keeping us together when we are falling apart. We know You are there to catch us. Thank You to the lessons, the challenges and the days that we felt we would break. Whatever the size of our challenges, God is big enough to handle them. Instead of saying Lord move this mountain, say Lord give me the strength to climb. Thank You Father in giving us courage when we are afraid to climb for fear of falling. Thank You for moving us out of our comfort zone for fear of not knowing where Your will and Your purpose will take us; for fear of the unknown. It's our faith and trust in God that will help us through the climb.