Leadership

Positioning Yourself to Receive all that God has for Your Life

PositioningBlog (WEB)

At the outset of this blog, I want to make it clear that I understand once you receive Jesus into your heart as your personal savior that you are positioning yourself to receive God’s grace, mercy, love & salvation.  If you do or have done an in depth study on the book of Romans, you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. But what these next few blogs are going to be talking about…is receiving God’s blessings for your life.  There are certain things that both you and I have to do to be able to position ourselves to receive all that God has for our lives.

The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it.” – Proverbs 10:22

The heart of God is to bless you. He wants to increase you.  He wants you to enjoy the abundant life. The more than enough life. He wants you to be able to experience the (Zoe) of God which is his peace, joy & blessings…and like the scripture says ‘without painful toil for it.’

Are you ready to position yourself?

fear-of-the-Lord

#1. Maintain a Holy Fear of God.

The first thing you and I must do is learn how to maintain a holy fear of God.  We must learn to live a life where we answer to an “audience of one.” We can’t get caught up in pleasing people but we must be caught up in pleasing the one that matters most…God.  Pleasing God will bring conviction in our lives and conviction is the compass that guides our lives.  Do you have a holy fear of God? Meaning a reverence, a respect and a love for God?

This idea was foreign to me when I first came to the Lord because I grew up in disobedience and rebellion.  You might be able to relate with me. But over time…and fast forward over three decades later…I have learned how to value my relationship with God.  When he speaks, I listen.  I listen even to the point that if others are against it…I will still obey.  And I want to encourage you to do the same.  At the end of our lives we will have to stand before God and answer for everything He entrusted us to do…I don’t know about you but I take that very serious. And more than pleasing people…I want to be pleasing to Him. Who are you pleasing?

The good life begins in the fear of God—
Do that and you’ll know the blessing of God.
His Hallelujah lasts forever! (Psalm 111:10 – The Message)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Good sense is shown by everyone who follows God’s guiding principles.
His praise continues forever. (Psalm 111:10 – Living Bible)

Away-with-this-religion

We usually approach God with one of the following types of fear:

a.  Bad Fear – In the bible this is referred to as “pachad.” This is a person reacting to something sudden or startling to the point of trembling. This type of fear is synonymous with terror, horror or alarm.  This fear can hold you back and paralyze you from doing things you know you should do. This kind of fear will paralyze or damage your faith.

b. Good Fear – I like how Charles Finney put it.  “It’s an affectionate reverence where God’s sons and daughters…they come into his presence and they humbly bow their hearts, their attitudes, their minds and their lives before a loving father.”

Have you been coming to God that way? The problem is that sometimes we have the wrong perspective of ourselves.  Sometimes we feel that people are putting us down when in reality it’s just God dealing with our pride.  We need conviction and when we don’t have it, we begin to become people that are married to compromise.  It fits into our little world so we keep it.  It’s sad too because some people have had the same bent in their lives for years…they get the victory for a season but then go right back to it later like an old familiar friend. Don’t be like those in the following verse:

For the leaders of my people—
    the Lord’s watchmen, his shepherds—
    are blind and ignorant.
They are like silent watchdogs
    that give no warning when danger comes.
They love to lie around, sleeping and dreaming. (Isaiah 56:10)

To fear the Lord is to avoid evil.”

What’s your weakness? I want to encourage you today to do something about it.  We all have something.  It could be a bent towards being negative, lust, gossiping, anger, jealously…believe me this list can get pretty long.  But you can’t just ignore it…you gotta do something about it.  Start today by taking a few moments to evaluate your fear of God.  Do you have an awe of God in your life? When God speaks, do you listen and obey?  Have you been wrestling with God in your mind? Whatever it might be, respond the way David did in Psalm 51. Take time today to read that chapter and let God speak to you.  The first step in positioning yourself to receive all that God has for your life is maintaining a Holy Fear of God!

A Bitter Taste: Part 2

CROSSING THE RED SEA

Before we jump into today’s blog, I just wanted to take a quick second to thank you for being a reader.  Whether this is the first blog you have read or even if you’re a frequent guest.  My prayer is that as we dig into God’s Word, you will be inspired, challenged & provoked to become all that God has called you to be.  You’re time is precious and I don’t want to waste it.

So let’s jump right in. Today we’re going to finish the conversation that we started in my last blog A Bitter Taste.  Feel free to take time to read or re-read that one before continuing with this one.  We’ve all had bitter experiences in life. It doesn’t matter how young, how old, your ethnicity, how long you’ve been saved…if you’re a living, breathing human…then chances are you know exactly what I’m talking about.  We’re not the only ones who have had bitter experiences…we went through a whole list of people in the Bible in the last blog of many who became bitter.

Today, I want to give you a picture in the Bible where God turned a bitter experience into sweet victory. I want to leave you encouraged today.  Maybe you find yourself in a bitter situation today. It could be a financial situation (bills to pay, a shut off noticed just came in the mail, etc.), a relationship (with a spouse, a loved one, your children, etc.) or maybe you’re surrounded by negativity (criticism, people or maybe the devil’s been trying to give you one on one Bible Studies).  It doesn’t matter what the situation is, God can turn it around today.

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“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah). So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”” – Exodus 15:22-24

This is a very familiar story…at least what took place right before this.  Moses just led God’s people across the Red Sea.  Pharaoh & his army  were flooded.  God’s people were loving life.  They were rejoicing, singing songs and felt as if nothing could go wrong.  Can you relate? Ever had those moments where everything is going great? Everyone loves you, you get a promotion, the people you run into are nice, people let you cut in front of them on the freeway…you know what I mean? Well, they were definitely having a mountain top experience.  Then three days later…everything changed. They went without water for three days and began to grumble.  They even turned on Moses.  Just a few days before, they loved him.  Reminds me of how people welcomed Jesus by laying palm branches before him but a week later those same people were yelling “crucify him.”

This is where it gets good so pay attention.  As the story continues, Moses went before the Lord in prayer.  God shows Moses a tree, which he then throws in the water and it became sweet or ‘fit to drink.’  In one translation it says that he “pointed” to a tree.  Notice how God didn’t create a tree, but it was already there. The tree is a representation of Jesus and what he did for us on the cross.  If we put Jesus (tree) in the center of our situation (sea), he’ll take care of the bitter waters (situation) and make them sweet. Are you putting Jesus in the middle of that stress, that marriage, that difficult financial situation or your most immediate need right now? I encourage you to make him the center.  Even with the situation that you feel will never work out…we serve a God who specializes in the impossible.

Moses & Red Sea

The chapter ends with them coming to Elim and this is the final thought I want to leave you with today.  There are two aramaic words for ‘Elim.’ The first root word is “mighty” and the second word is “a place of rest.” It can also be translated into a place of shade or provision.  When you allow God to be the center of your bitter experience, He’ll bring you to a place where you’ll have victory.  There were 12 springs & 70 palm trees where they camped.  Why 12 & 70? Well, if the tree points to Jesus, the 12 points to his disciples and 70 points to the crowd that followed Christ.  This points to ministry or God’s House. Look around the camp where God has placed you at today, you’re not alone. People stay weak & feable when they don’t plug into church and they try to do things on their own.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” – Hebrews 10:24-25

You’re victory is waiting for you. Let your bitter experiences make you better.  God did it for Moses, I’ve seen Him do it countless times in my own life and I know He’s going to do it for you too.  If you’re reading this it’s because God is not finished with you.  He still has so much more for you to experience in life.  Let that bitter taste leave today and let God set you up for sweet victories in your future.

You’re So Full of It

On the past few blogs, we’ve been going back and forth on the subject of “About My Father’s Business.” In the next few blogs, we’ll pick back up on that subject…there’s so much more to share.  But I want to shift gears for a moment and tell you something that I really think you should hear.  I don’t know if you realize what I’m about to tell you and how it can change your life. I think even other people have been wanting to tell you this for awhile now and hopefully by the time you’re done reading this blog, you’ll feel provoked to tell someone else the same thing. Are you you ready? Now don’t rush through this…you could miss it.  Ok, here it goes: your so full of it. You really are! YOU’RE FULL OF POTENTIAL!

Potential – “something that can develop or become actual, existing in possibility, untapped energy, etc.”

I love what Paul writes in the passage above.  He was a man full of potential and he KNEW it! He knew that God wasn’t done with him yet.  He knew that God still had a future ahead of him to do great things.  It’s the same for you reading this blog right now.  I want to let you know that there is still a future ahead of you.  Your best days and most blessed days are still in front of you.  As long as you’re breathing, God has great things ahead of you.  He still wants to use you to reach more people than you ever had.  He still wants to help you become a better spouse, better musician, better minister and so many other things that might pertain to your situation right now.  He hasn’t forgotten about you.  And he hasn’t forgotten about your dream.

As I reflect on potential, I think about the famous artist Michelangelo.  He touched the world through his creativity, his talent and imagination.  One thing that really caught my attention was the fact that he had so many unfinished works (paintings, sculptures, etc.).  There’s actually a museum full of all the unfinished works that he did.  I’m sure there’s a story behind each piece but the sad thing is that museum resembles so many people out there today who live their life with wasted potential.  Don’t be that person.  Choose to go against the grain.  Make a stand that you will be different.  You might be in a time where God is using things to bring out hidden potential.  He could be chiseling away areas that will slow you down…so it might hurt.  But it’s to make you into his masterpiece.  And unlike Michelangelo, God wants to finish his masterpiece in your life.

Before you go back to the hustle and bustle of your day, I want to leave you with one thought: DREAM BIG again! What’s your dream? Do you still dream? Are you still reaching for things that at one time you thought were impossible?  For instance, if you want a new car…I hope you’re not taking time and picturing yourself in a pinto! Who does that? But see yourself in that car that you’ve always wanted.  Maybe it’s not a car, but maybe for God to renew your marriage. Or maybe you’re believing God to come through in a different situation.  But whatever it is, don’t give up.  God’s dream will come true if you let it.  There are so many examples of dreamers in the Bible with Daniel, Joseph, Peter and Paul (just to name a few).

Start living your dream today!  Don’t get caught up with living an illusion.  That’d be like me retiring from pastoring and trying to become the starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers or trying to be a center for the Los Angeles Lakers…it’s not going to happen.  I’ll never forget years ago when a man of God prophesied over my life that i was going to be a pastor one day.  When he was done praying, I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. The thing was…it didn’t happen right away.  It actually took 16 years for that dream to unfold. Your dream might still be unfolding in your life.  Don’t give up.  Nobody can keep you from your destiny. Not a friend, not a family member, not the enemy….only you! God’s plan has no expiration date on it.  He hasn’t given up on you so don’t give up on Him!

 

About My Father’s Business (A Fighting Spirit)

“Nehemiah prayed, “Oh listen to us, dear God. We’re so despised: Boomerang their ridicule on their heads; have their enemies cart them off as war trophies to a land of no return; don’t forgive their iniquity, don’t wipe away their sin—they’ve insulted the builders!”

We kept at it, repairing and rebuilding the wall. The whole wall was soon joined together and halfway to its intended height because the people had a heart for the work.” – Nehemiah 4:4-6

In the past few blogs, we have been talking “About My Father’s Business.” Today I want to talk about a man that was sold out to His Father’s Business.  His name is Nehemiah.  If you know his story, you know where I’m going with this.  In the beginning of the book of Nehemiah, he receives some really big news.  I don’t really want to focus on the news…but on his reaction.  He responded to this news in a way I hope we all can one day respond to things that God is telling us.  He really took it to heart, he digested it, he thought intensely about it…but ultimately, he prayed about it.

There was an action behind it.  Let me ask you a question, “are you putting action behind the news (vision, purpose, etc.) that God has given you?” Has God been sending people your way to deliver some important news? Maybe a loved one? A spouse? A friend? God sent Hanani (his brother) to tell Nehemiah some important news.  Nehemiah could of thought, “What does that have to do with me? That’s in another city, why would I care? What am I going to get out of this?” and many other thoughts.  But the key here is that he took it to prayer.  And it was in prayer, where God birthed a vision for him to rebuild the walls.  Could it be possible that God has been trying to birth a vision in your prayer time?

Not only did Nehemiah begin this journey in prayer…but throughout his ENTIRE journey we see him often return to prayer.  The scripture above (half the journey later), we see him talking to God about his enemies.  Let me throw this thought in for free: whenever you are doing something great for God, you’re going to have a few enemies along the way.  But one thing I want to tell you, is that they are not fighting against you, they’re fighting against God! God could be calling you to start a business, restore your marriage, step out into ministry or many other things.  Those are all great things, and when God is behind it…even birthing that into your heart…he’ll help you achieve those goals.  I’ve always believed that where God guides, He provides.

Just recently, God birthed a big vision into my heart.  People told us to “go away.” Our response was very similar to Nehemiah…”WE KEPT AT IT.” People told us “can’t you find somewhere else?” You know how we responded? WE KEPT AT IT.  They even said, “it’ll never happen.” You know how we responded? I think you’ve caught on by now.  And it’s the same in your life.  If God has been the one pushing you, tugging at your heart or whispering in your ear…just keep at it.  He’ll help you see that vision come to pass! It was after 52 days, when Nehemiah was able to step back and say, “Look at what the Lord has done!” Stay encouraged today, He’s on your side! And greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world!

 

 

 

Increase Our Faith

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. [Luke 17:5-6]

Let me start this blog with a simple question, “Why is faith important?” I’m sure everyone will have different responses to that question.  But with a simple question…I’ll pose a simple answer…because without faith, it’s impossible to please God.  Are you someone that’s pleases God today in your walk?

God doesn’t waste ministry on someone that doesn’t have great destiny!” If you’re taking the time to read this blog, then that means that you’re an individual who has great destiny.  It was the same with the disciples.  Jesus spent time and energy investing in their lives because he knew they would one day take his ministry around the world.  The story that follows in Luke 17 was a model of faith building for the disciples…and I believe for us too!

The key phrase in the scripture above is “you can say.” Some people miss out on that key phrase and focus too much on the mustard seed part of the scripture.  If you get stuck there then you’re only catching part of what Jesus was saying…it’s much bigger than that.  The disciples were asking for Jesus to increase their faith.  But Jesus was telling them to SPEAK their faith.  Are you speaking faith in your life today?  God is not moved by your emotion…but he is moved by your faith.  See…faith doesn’t want details…just obedience.

Jesus changed the World with 3 Statements:

  1. Mark 4:39 [Atmosphere]: He told the winds and the waves to stop.  He was saying…”i spoke an impossibility and you can do the same thing.”
  2. “Lazarus, come forth” [Death]: He allowed a dear friend of his to die to prove to everyone that he had power over death.
  3. “It is finished” [Relationship with God]: It was because of this that we now have access to God.

In Exodus 14:15, God tells Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?” Sometimes all you see is your red sea…but God sees the end result.  Have you’ve been in a place where you have been crying to God? He’s telling you today to speak to your Red Sea! Remember God is moved by your faith, not your emotions.  The situation will change! We just need to stop telling our God how big our mountain is and start telling our mountain how big our God is!

Be An Example

And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.

Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation. – 1 Timothy 4:12-16 (The Message)

I had the opportunity this past weekend to spend some time with my spiritual sons.  I love when I get the chance to impart into the next generation.  And even though the following was targeted towards young men, I believe that we can all apply these powerful principles into our lives.  Timothy was being challenged to be an example.  I think the same is true for anyone that is taking the time to read this as well.  If you have people that look to you or follow you…then you know the responsibility of being an example!

God never gives someone great ministry unless you have great destiny!” Timothy was that man! God had a huge calling in store for this man.  God knew it and Paul knew it too! That’s why Paul took the time to write this letter.  Timothy was pastoring the largest church at this time.  While that might be pressure enough to handle, add to it the fact that he actually had people in his congregation who had seen Jesus (one example being the Apostle John).  Talk about pressure! Most scholars believe that Timothy was 19 or in his early 20’s. History even tells us that there was a group of elders at the time that said they should make it a rule that someone shouldn’t be a pastor until they were 30 years old! Seemed like Timothy was definitely going through a lot at that time!

Paul challenged Timothy in the following areas: [Basically he was saying…this is how you shut their mouths, Be An Example!]

  • Speech-What’s coming out of your mouth? Get rid of the stuff that leads to nowhere.
  • Life-Set a covenant with your eyes. Don’t waste time! You’ll be a lot further if you don’t waste time.
  • Love-Have a love that is different from that of the world.
  • Faith-Trust God even when it’s hard.  God will fashion us through pain!
  • Purity-There’s a story of a man who was cleaning a huge window.  When he was almost done, everything was clean except for one spot.  He added more soap, scrubbed harder and did all he could to get ride of that spot.  A man a little ways away came up to the man and said, “the spots on the inside.” That’s exactly what God might be telling you today…”the spots on the inside.” There are some things that man can’t see but God can see everything.

I think Timothy had to be challenged after hearing this from his spiritual father.  I know I’m challenged every time I get around my spiritual father.  I really take the time to think about what he tells me.  I meditate on it, I pray about it and I even try to put it to action.  That’s the same thing that Paul was doing with Timothy. He was provoking him to make him do something about it.  The only way he was going to be able to silence his critics, was to be an example! Most scholars believe that Timothy was single at this time too.  So if you’re reading this…it doesn’t matter your age, your relationship status, whether people see you as a leader or not…if you take the time to apply these truths to your life you’ll be an example worth following.

The choices you make will determine what you’ll be and what you’ll have!

My Worst Enemy

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” – Mark 4:35-40

Jesus had about a year left on the earth at this point in his ministry and wanted to teach his disciples the number one tool of the enemy…FEAR!  The enemy will always try to attack our faith by trying to instill FEAR into our lives.

Fear has many shades.  Fear could be complexes in our lives, people feeling like they don’t fit in and many other shades…but ultimately it corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness.  Let’s take the disciples as our prime example. In this story we see that Jesus starts out by saying, “Let’s go over to the other side.” One thing we have to understand off the bat is that once we get into Jesus’ boat, there will always be storms.  As the story continues though…the disciples get scared because of a storm that came “without warning.” How many storms have happened in your life that came without warning? How did you respond? It’s not the size of the storm that matters but the size of your God in the storm that makes the difference.  Jesus was basically telling his disciples, “This is why you have little faith…because you have shades of fear in your life.”

Maybe you can relate with the disciples.  They had shades of fear in their lives. Maybe it was the storm, maybe it was the fact that it came without warning or maybe it was because Jesus was sleeping.  Ever felt like Jesus was asleep during the storms in your life?  It could feel like Jesus is silent in those times.  It’s in those times where we could feel like asking the question, “Does God Even Care?

Let me tell you from personal experience…that’s not from God.  That little voice that might try to creep up during some of the most vulnerable times in your life…is the enemy.  Remember in the garden with Eve?  Well, that’s exactly what he’ll try to do to you.  He’ll start by questioning God (Are you sure that’s what he said?), then he’ll accuse God (God wants to keep something good from you) and finally he’ll completely lie (If you eat of the fruit, then you’ll become just like God).  i remember such a time in my life where the enemy told me, “Is this how God rewards your faithfulness? He wouldn’t even heal your son.”

You know what I did? I encouraged myself in the Lord! Just because the Lord was silent in that storm of my life, didn’t mean he wasn’t there.  It was the same with the disciples, Jesus was sleeping but he was in the boat.  And let’s remember who’s boat it was…it belonged to Jesus.  We’re just going along for the ride. But with Jesus in the boat, you can be sure that we’re going to get to the other side.  I want to encourage you too! If you’ve been feeling fear trying to creep into your life and your actions, I want you to know that “He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world,” “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind” and that “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” He’s been there for me and I know he’ll be there for you too!  Let Jesus rebuke the winds and the waves that are trying to control the direction of your boat. He’s just waiting for you to overcome your fear with faith.