Monday, March 26, 2012

Four Days Ablaze

My church has a conference every year in March called Four Days Ablaze. It started with a bang yesterday; Pastor Robert Patton tore the place up! Still to come, we have Pastor Stanley Pratt and Pastor Tracy Harris.

Because there are morning and evening services, I won't be writing any new posts until Thursday - sorry guys! But if you want to hear some amazing services - tune in here to watch it live!

Services will be every morning at 10 and every evening at 7 eastern! I guarantee they will change your life!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Everyone Has A Place

(If you want to read more on this subject - check out this post too!)

Proverbs 27:8 “Like a bird that wanders from its nest Is a man who wanders from his place.

Everyone has a place. It’s the place you’re designed to be - the place God calls you to be. It’s where you’ll find you’re greatest fulfillment. It’s where God expects you to be when He wants to use you. It’s the spot where you can be the greatest blessing to Heaven and humanity. It’s the place you belong.

Jacob found that place in Genesis 28:11 - it was first called the “certain place.” Later, Jacob realized that place was where God was. “Surely Yahweh is in this place and I didn’t know it!...How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God! This is the gate of Heaven!” Jacob found out that his place was Bethel - the house of God!

Later in life, Jacob was aimless and without direction. He just experienced a family tragedy. His only daughter was raped and his sons massacred the whole town where her rapist lived. Now Jacob feared for his life! He was feeling down, depressed, probably doubting the promise God had made to him. What was God’s answer for him? Genesis 35:1 “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there...” God’s response was to send him back to the place he started; that certain place, the awesome place, the house of God!

About 450 years later, after God had brought Jacob’s descendants out of Egypt, He gave them almost the same command. In Deuteronomy 12:2 God describes how the nations in Canaan were worshipping on every hill and under every tree - wherever they felt like. In verses 5-7 He says, “But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.  And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.

God declared that there was one place where He called His people to worship Him - and that’s where they would receive His blessing.

David understood this. When he was running from Jerusalem, from his son Absalom, The priests were going to carry the Ark of the Covenant with him. David stopped them and said, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place.” David knew that it was his responsibility to go to that set place - he couldn’t move it around with him!

When David’s son Solomon built the first temple, that was where God set His place. That was the place God picked to meet with His people. After the dedication, God met with Solomon and said, “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”

Can you see that it has always been God’s plan to emphasize certain places? For Jacob, it was Bethel. For Israel, it was the tabernacle and then the temple. But this place is always called “the house of God.”

Fast forward to the New Testament. Now we have believers who claim that they don’t have the responsibility to go anywhere. But we see in Hebrews 10:25 that we’re still called to assemble together. 1 Timothy 3:15 tells us where we’re supposed to do this - “in the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” God still has a place where He calls His people to come to Him - the church!

There is a place for you. You were never called to be a loner or a spiritual floater. You were called to be rooted in God’s house! You need to send those roots deep. You need to decide right now that nothing (no offense, no lure of the world, and no trap of the enemy) can ever pull you out of your place! Here’s why: Psalm 133 says that God commands His blessing to a certain place - where brothers dwell together in unity!

Have you found your place yet?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Soft But Strong

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

People are often confused about the fruits of kindness and goodness in a believer’s life. Maybe it’s because different words are used in different translations. Maybe it’s because they stop paying attention to this list as soon as they read “patience”. Maybe it’s because they think they know what it means already. But I want you to see that kindness and goodness are necessary in a believer’s life! Not only does every Christian need these two characteristics, they need each other to work properly!

You see, the fruit of kindness and the fruit of goodness balance each other out.

Kindness is probably the fruit the world expects from Christians. If you were to describe it in today’s terms, this fruit makes you “nice”. This is beyond a smile and cheerful words - this is an action word!

Like all the fruit of the Spirit, kindness is an attribute of God Himself! Ephesians 2:7 says, “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” The riches of God’s grace are given to us in kindness! According to Titus 3:4-5, it was God’s kindness that saved us!
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
Here we see that kindness is attached to mercy!

In Luke 6:35 Jesus tells us that we are supposed to possess the same kind of kindness that God has. “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”
A believer is required to be kind, even to his enemies!

Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind to our brothers and sisters - even if they’ve wronged us! “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” If you’re ignoring, avoiding, and being hostile to a brother or sister because of what they did to you - you’re lacking God’s kind of kindness in your life!

Godly kindness is not optional or disposable! It is absolutely necessary to keep the love of God alive in our hearts. Still, kindness cannot be unbalanced in a believer’s life.

Kindness is not tolerance of sin! It was never intended to be an excuse for compromise. It is never right to be kind to the oppressor at the expense of the oppressed. When injustice is allowed - when the wicked go free in society - it’s not God’s kind of kindness.

You see, sometimes speaking the truth isn’t always the world’s idea of being kind. But is it really a kind thing to let a sinner continue in their sin and not confront them? Jesus was always kind, but He was always good also!

Goodness is an internal conviction of right and wrong. It is a strong uprightness of heart. Today we call it “character.” Kindness is about how we treat others, goodness is about right and wrong! Goodness is sometimes direct, and many worldly people view it as mean-spirited. But goodness is not cruel or mean. In fact, a good person will confront a cruel person about their cruelty!

Goodness refuses to back down to evil. Romans 12:21 says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Luke 23 calls Joseph of Arimathea a “good man” because he openly disagreed with the pharisee’s condemnation of Jesus. Romans 15:14 tells us that a believer’s goodness will admonish, or warn others about sin! So can you see that goodness isn’t always perceived as kind?

Kindness and goodness need each other!

Kindness without goodness to strengthen it  is simply tolerance. It brings no change to the sinner. It brings no conviction. It simply leaves people to the consequences of their own sin for fear of confrontation.

Goodness without kindness to soften it is damaging. We are required to speak the truth in love. When a believer to be brash and arrogant when confronting sin, it usually hurts the hearer. We are never called to condemn the sinner with his sin! There’s a baby somewhere in that dirty bath water!

The cross is the best example of God’s kindness and goodness. At the cross, God’s goodness toward sin was poured out on Jesus. He didn’t ignore the penalty of our sin, but He poured it out on Jesus. He did this to show us His kindness!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Identity Crisis

Too many people are confused about Who exactly Jesus is. We’ve confused the issue by placing all the emphasis on His humanity. We’ve majored on how He relates to us at the exclusion of all other aspects of His nature. Whenever we give Him a title, it’s almost always “the Son of God.” I think we’ve lost sight of something in church - His deity! Jesus is God!

Of course He is the Son of God - but not in the same way that we are sons of God! He isn’t only the Son of God, He is God the Son! The Jesus in the New Testament is one and the same as Yahweh in the Old Testament! This is the central doctrine of Christianity. This one thing is where we disagree with Judaism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witness, and Mormonism. Jesus isn’t the son of God and brother of Lucifer (Like the J.W.s claim). He isn’t a god (like the Mormons claim). He isn’t a good teacher or a good prophet (Judaism and Islam). He is 100% God, and we need to be bold about this!

Modernist liberals (even in the church!) have made it a point to claim that we all serve the same God. But I want to make it clear - we do not! My God isn’t named Allah, He’s named Jesus! That is the one true God! And while I respect my Jewish heritage; Abraham, Moses, and David all looked forward to Emmanuel! Jesus is Yahweh of the Old Testament!

Isaiah 9:6 testifies to this truth, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Jesus also confirms this over and over. In John 8:56 He said that Abraham rejoiced when He looked forward to Jesus’ coming. He said in verse 58, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” - That was the eternal name of God! I AM is the name of Yahweh! His Jewish listeners knew exactly what He was claiming, they tried to kill Him for it!

This is why the virgin birth of Jesus was so important. Jesus had no natural parents, His body was planted in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit. From the moment of conception, He was God in the flesh! Think of it - the eternal God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the all-powerful, the all-knowing, the one true God stepped from His throne into the unformed and undeveloped body of a baby in the womb!

Philippians 2:5-11 states this doctrine as clear as any passage. This passage is known as the kenosis, or the emptying of Christ:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form (exact image and nature) of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Paul quotes an Old Testament passage from Isaiah 45:22-23. This is what Yahweh says in this passage, “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath.

Paul quotes this again in Romans 14:10-11, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’” Clearly, the New Testament writers saw that Jesus was the One that every knee would bow to!

Yahweh repeatedly declares that He is the only true God in chapters 43-46 of Isaiah. Many of those same statements are also used of Jesus in the New Testament!

Isaiah 43:11 says, “I, even I, am Yahweh, and besides Me there is no Savior.”  Yet Titus 2:13 says that we’re “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”. Clearly, if there is no other Savior than Yahweh - then Jesus is more than just “the Son of God”!

Isaiah 44:6 says, “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.” But we see the title “the First and the Last” again in Revelation 2:8 - this time describing Jesus! We also see in Galatians 3:13, Titus 2:14, and Revelation 5:9 that our Redeemer (called Yahweh in Isaiah 44:6) is Jesus!

Can you see how we’ve cheapened Jesus’ true nature by making Him like one of us? Sure, Jesus did humble Himself and become like us; but only by taking on a physical body! He never stopped being God! While He was inside the body of that baby, He was still filling the universe with His glory! While He limited Himself in what He did, He still had all the power that ever was! Now do you see how amazing it was that Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified? Jesus, God in the flesh, created the very tree that He hung on!

Refuse to compromise on this point, Christian! If Jesus isn’t God, then our faith in Him is pointless and we of all men are most pitiable!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy and peace. It is being patient, kind and good. It is being faithful and gentle and having control of oneself. There is no law against things of that kind.

The Greek word translated as patience or long-suffering is “makrothymia”. It’s used about 14 times in the New Testament, 5 times in reference to God Himself. Of course God would have this kind of patience, after all this isn’t the fruit of the Christian…it’s the fruit of the Spirit. We cannot manifest this fruit by ourselves. It isn’t a result, it isn’t even a reward - it’s a fruit. We don’t work for patience, we allow it to grow. The more time we spend with the Holy Spirit, the more these fruit come out in our everyday life.

The word translated as patience - “makrothymia” - has two principle meanings:

The first meaning is what we normally think of as “patience”. That is to say endurance, longsuffering, or being slow to avenge yourself. It’s about how long you can wait for something or how far you can put up with someone. This is how makrothymia is used in Ephesians 4:2, “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”
Colossians 3:12-13 tells us why believer’s should be patient with each other. “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Makrothymia is also used to describe God’s endurance with sinners in Romans 9:22 “In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, He is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction.” 2 Peter 3:15 says that it is God’s patience that gives sinners time to repent. So God’s patience with us, His willingness to put up with the crazy things people do, is an absolute lifesaver!

The second meaning of makrothymia is different than endurance and longsuffering. Patience also means stability. It isn’t just how long we can wait, it’s how long we can wait without changing. Christ-like patience means it doesn’t matter what happens, we remain the same.

This meaning of patience is brought out in Hebrews 6:11-12, “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Do you see it? We’re supposed to imitate those men and women who patiently inherited the promises - the ones who consistently did what they were commanded. You see, this is more than “putting up” with someone! This type of patience means that no matter what happens…you refuse to change what you believe.

Actually, there is another Greek word (often translated as “patience” also) that brings out this side of our patience. This word is  “hypomone”. This is essentially being stable and unswerving in what you believe. For a believer, it means you get off the roller coaster. You’’re not up one day and down the next. When this fruit is matured in a Christian’s life, no outside circumstance can ever change what they believe - or how they behave.

This is the kind of patience Hebrews 12:1 speaks of. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” In other words, let’s throw off the sin that tangles us up and just be consistent!

If you want to live a successful Spiritual life, consistency and stability are crucial! No one can be on top of things one day and then under the circumstances the next day and still expect to succeed spiritually.

Jacob’s oldest son Reuben was an example of a life that failed because of a lack of stability. Reuben was the firstborn and he had the legal privilege to inherit the birthright. But he disqualified himself because of his instability. Genesis 49:3-4 says, Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, you shall not excel.. Reuben knew what was right, sometimes he even did what was right. Remember, he saved Joseph from his other brothers! But there was two sides to this man. He was constantly wavering back and forth between right and wrong. Because of this instability, this lack of patience, He disqualified himself.

Remember, a person who continues in two natures will usually settle into the lower one - the sinful one. It’s important to stay stable in the new life God gave you!

So have a look at your life. Are you constantly moving back and forth between two natures? Do you feel like Jekyll and Hyde? You’re in need of the fourth fruit of the Spirit, my friend! Patience - stability - will grow naturally when you spend time every day in God’s presence!

James 5:7-8 “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

Monday, March 19, 2012

What's Different About Your Peace?

Romans 14:15 “for the Kingdom of God is...righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 17:21 “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

The part of God’s Kingdom on earth right now is inside of us, His people. This part of His kingdom is made up of righteousness, peace, and joy. We’ve already learned that joy is not necessarily an emotion, but a decision based on faith. So it shouldn’t be surprising that our peace is also based on faith.

The world is looking for peace. They wish for it every time they get a microphone. They write songs about it. They’ve turned Christmas into the season of world peace. Sadly, there will be no peace in this earth until Jesus comes back to set up the rest of His kingdom. You can read about that in Revelation 20:1-6. Until then, this world is going to see more and more wars - that’s a promise!

You see, the world describes peace as “the absence of conflict.” Everyone in the world is seeking that in their own life. They just want peace and quiet where nothing goes wrong. But that will never happen in a sinner’s life! Isaiah 48:22 says “There is no peace for the wicked.” As long as someone is outside of the Kingdom of God, they will never find peace. Luke 2:14 agrees with this - it says, “Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” That’s the English translation. But the Greek literally says “on earth peace toward men with whom He is pleased.” That’s a little different than we’ve heard every Christmas!

Peace for a believer is much different. Jesus said in the first part of John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” You see? His peace is not like the world is looking for! The rest of this verse tells us why it’s different. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The believer’s peace is the responsibility to keep our hearts from being afraid! Peace for a believer is when we’re calm on the inside when all hell is breaking loose on the outside. Just like our joy, our peace is not based on what happening to us. It’s based on what God’s Word promises us. Two chapter later, in John 16:33, we see that our peace is directly connected to what God has said. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.”

So how does a believer stay in this peace? Here are four keys to having the peace of God in your life:

First of all, guard your heart! Jesus directly commanded us not to let our hearts be troubled. Proverbs 4:23 says “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Not everyone should have the privilege of speaking into your heart. In fact, I would say this; don’t take anything that anyone (your friends, your spouse, your family, your television) says to heart unless you know it agrees with what the Bible teaches! Your heart is too important to let careless words weigh it down.

Guard your mind. Keep it focused on heavenly things. When you’re focused on eternity, temporal things lose their urgency. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” When your mind is stayed on Jesus - it brings peace. Philippians 4:8-9 says the same thing. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” When you keep a tight control on what your brain is thinking, it will lead to peace!

Pray and trust God. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” This is one of the simplest commands, but it’s still one of the hardest! When your facing a situation, don’t worry! Pray for it in faith and then thank God for the answer! Then the peace of God will guard your heart and your mind!

Stay in God’s Word. Psalm 119:65 “Great peace have they which love Your law (or His Word): and nothing shall offend them.” When you love God’s Word it brings great peace! Not only will you have peace in your life when you love God’s Word, but nothing will be able to offend you! Actually, this is a great test for why you may not have peace in your life. If nothing can offend someone who loves God’s Word, and you’re offended...well you can see the problem, right? I would almost bet that if you’re offended, you’re also in need of peace in your mind. The cure for both offense and inner turmoil is falling in love with God’s Word!

These four things - guarding your heart from careless words, keeping your mind on heavenly things, faith-filled prayer, and a love for God’s Word - will bring God’s peace for you. But only a consistency in these things will keep His peace in your life!

Psalm 4:8 “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I don't usually post videos, but it's a weekend and I really like this song! Besides, it carries a message of it's own!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Are You Happy?

Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness...”

Romans 14:17 “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Have you noticed that people aren’t happy anymore? Everywhere you go, it seems like everyone woke up late, couldn’t get their hair straight, and drank a half-gallon of lemon juice! It is a very rare thing to encounter a truly happy person right now.

But the Bible says that a believer’s life should be full of joy! Romans 14:17 says that joy is one-third of the Kingdom of God within you. Galatians 5:22 says joy is a fruit that should naturally be a part of a Spirit-filled life.

Has this been your experience? Or have you, like me, been having a hard time seeing the difference between the attitude of the world and the attitude of believers? We’ve gotten so caught up in all the bad news and in the condition of this world that we’ve forfeited our happiness.

What we need to realize is, happiness and true joy are not the same thing!

Happiness is fickle. It comes and goes based on the silliest things.
“I’ve got a new pair of shoes, I’m happy now!”
“I got a shaving cut this morning, now I’m not happy.”
Happiness is probably one of the most fragile emotions humans have. It doesn’t take much at all to ruin it. The thing that Christians been to remember is this, happiness is always based on external situations. When those situations change, your happiness changes with it!

The church has been so busy trying to find its own happiness - just something to make me feel good! We’ve forgotten that Jesus never promised us happiness in this life! As long as we’re in this world, things are going to change. And as long as things are changing, happiness will come and go. What we as believers need, is something more lasting. We need joy.

Joy is not based on surroundings - it’s based on faith. 1 Peter 1:8 says, “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” The joy that comes from the Holy Spirit says, “it doesn’t matter what I see or don’t see, I trust in God - and because of that, I’m going to rejoice.”

Joy is lasting. As long as your faith is in God, your joy remains. In John 15:11 Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jesus wants our joy to be lasting, to remain regardless of what’s going on around us.

Joy is a choice, not an emotion. We all know Nehemiah 8:10 - “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” But did you know that Nehemiah was talking to a group of sad, bummed-out people? He was encouraging them to stop looking at their circumstances and rejoice in the Lord! Well, they listened to him. Despite the way they felt, they decided to rejoice. But here’s the best part, as they obeyed Nehemiah and rejoiced, the happiness returned! Remember when I told you that happiness is fickle? Well, true joy (based on faith) will actually produce happiness!

Joy is built up from God’s Word. Jeremiah 15:16 - “And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” If we go back to John 15:11, we can see that joy is based on Jesus’ words. When we spend time in God’s Word, it builds up our joy. Actually, that makes perfect sense! After all, faith comes by hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17) - and joy is rooted in faith!

Christian, whenever you are feeling discouraged, depressed, sad or fearful; that is the time you need to fall back onto faith and joy. You need to make a decision to rejoice for what you believe! You need to get into the presence of God (Psalm 16:11 “In Your presence is fullness of Joy) and remember what He has done for you. As you do this, as you build yourself up in joy, your happiness will usually return!

The bottom line is, true christian joy is not an emotion! It is a decision from your spirit to trust what God has said!