Practical Living

Positioning Yourself to Receive all that God has for Your Life

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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?

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#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)

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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!

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7 Things To Help You Accomplish Your Dreams

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In the last blog, we began to dream. I know God has given you a dream.  Have you taken the time to really think about all that God has for you to do?  I’m in awe when I really begin to think about the privilege that God has given you and I to partner with Him in building His kingdom.

Today I’m going to begin to share “7 Things (that I have learned in my own life) to Help you Accomplish Your Dreams.” We won’t get through all seven today, but I believe that if you begin to put these guides into practice, you’ll see God begin to make your dreams a reality.  You affect your own life. I wish that I could regulate other people’s spiritual appetite…but I can’t.  They have to decide what they will do with their life each and every day.  It’s the same with you.  But I believe that you want more…or you wouldn’t be taking the time to read this blog.  So I know you’re a dreamer.  What are the dreams you have for your life this year? Do you have dreams to be a better husband? A better wife? A better student? A better son? A better child of God?

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#1. Define Your Dream (Write it Down)

The first thing we have to do is write it down. You must have something to write down and that is why I took the time to write the last blog.  You have a dream.  We all do. Without that, it’d be hard to start the process of seeing it come to pass. Let me ask you a question, how important is your life? I would dare to say that it’s pretty important or you wouldn’t be taking the time to make it better.  You control the outcome of your life, no one else.  You control the attitude that you have when certain things happen…no one else can do it for you.  Don’t let other people affect the quality of your life…they’re just flies on the wall anyway.

People with goals succeed, people with plans move forward.

Take the time today to write down the vision that God has given to you.  Don’t stay in the same place too long.  In football, each team has 25 seconds to come up with a plan and then attack.  It’s sad however that some people have been stuck in a huddle for years.  Don’t be that person. Write down the things that God has been telling you today.

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#2. Divine Dreams Require Patience (Trust God’s Clock)

Patience. Now that’s a hard one right there.  Would you describe yourself as patient? In my natural nature…I am not even close to being patient.  What about you? You know when I’m patient? When I pray.  It’s only in those times when I get alone with God that I am able to put my trust fully in Him and all that He desires to do in my life. I shared in the last blog that it took 17 years for the promise that God gave me to unfold. 17 years!!! Talk about patience. The great thing about our God…is that he knows WHEN.  He knows when we’re ready for promotion.  He knows when we’re ready for His blessings.  He knows when we’re ready to step into the next level of what He has planned for us.  He knows WHEN…

There were many people in the Bible that had to learn patience.  Noah had to wait 120 years for the ark to be completed (talk about a project). Abraham had to wait years for a son.  Sometimes, we’re going to have to wait.  And it won’t matter how much we want it to happen, how much we plead or how frustrated we might get…it still will only happen in God’s timing.  Don’t be like Sarah who took it upon herself to come up with a plan to try to help God.  She decided that since she was beyond the age of child bearing that she would have Hagar (her servant) bear a child with Abraham. Let me just throw this in for free…God doesn’t need our help.  He knows exactly what He is doing.  And when we decide to step out because of impatience, like Sarah…we’ll give birth to things in the flesh.  Learn to trust God’s timing. When you don’t trust God’s timing…you’ll start asking the WHY & WHEN question. Take a real honest look at your life today…have you been trusting God’s Clock? Or maybe…have you been a little on the impatient side and trying to do things in your own strength?

Why Should I Love My Church?

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Why Should I Love My Church?

If you’re taking the time to read this, then chances are you belong to a church. Ever wonder where we get the word “church” from? Or even who was the first person in the Bible to ever utter that word? Why is it even important for us to go to church? Was it just something for people in Biblical days? Over the next few blogs…all these questions and more will be answered.

Before you continue reading..take some time to answer this question for yourself…

Why Should I Love My Church?

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Chances are your answer or answers to the question, “Why Should I Love My Church?” will change over the next few weeks.  So let’s go a little deeper into this subject.

Matthew 16:18 says, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” 

In this portion of scripture, we see a conversation between Jesus and Peter. It’s in this dialogue where we see the word “church” used for the very first time.  It’s interesting to see how Jesus switches from calling Peter first by his Hebrew name and then to his Greek name.   It’s actually on this scripture that the Catholic Church builds their beliefs on.  They even call Peter the first Pope.  What I want to focus your attention on is the fact that Jesus said, “my church.” We have to remember that it’s not our church, but His. He died for our sins and for the sins of the world.

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You might be thinking, “Ok big deal, but why should I love my church?”

I want you to think for a second this thought…if it wasn’t for the church, where would your life be? I understand that it was Jesus who made a way to change your life around…but if it wasn’t for the church, where would you be?  It means a lot more to us when it’s personal.

It was in the church where I found my purpose in life.  In the world, I was lost and caught up with so many other things…but when I came into the church, my life began to have true meaning.  It was in the church where you might have found your spouse. Of if you’re single…it’s in the church where you’re going to find your spouse.  You might have even met your spouse in the world…but it’s in the church where you’ll learn how to respect them, honor them and treat them right.  The world doesn’t do that.  They don’t teach Marriage 101 at the night club or party house. It’s here in the church where we learn to be men and women of God.

There’s so much more we’re going to talk about. I just wanted to get your mind thinking about the church and the important role it has played even in your own life. Loving our church goes much deeper. Over the next few blogs, we’ll discuss many more topics on this thought of Why Should I Love My Church?

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.

A Bitter Taste…

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” – Hebrews 12:15

Over the past couple of blogs, we’ve been discussing the 7 Things to Remember When You Have a Pit Experience. We’ve already unpacked a few of them; 1. Are You Ready for Change Yet? 2. Attacks Will Come. 3. Losers Focus on What They’re Going Through. & 4. How do You Respond to People? I hope each of them have really left you challenged, provoked and inspired to become all God has called you to be.  I take the time to share each of these thoughts with you because these have all been experiences that I have gone through in my own life.  What I’m sharing with you are principles that I have learned in my walk with God, they’re not things that I have gotten from a book.

Today I want to focus on just one of the 7 Things to Remember When You Have a Pit Experience.  This would be number five of the bunch.  And I want to spend an entire blog dedicated to this particular subject because I feel this is something that will really hit home with everyone. So, let’s get to it: #5. Don’t Become Bitter.

We have to be careful not to get bitter when we’re in a pit experience.  I’ve seen bitterness trip people up in their walk with God.  And when I talk about bitterness, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you become angry or hateful.  A lot of times bitterness has a way of not being an outward expression but an inward cancer.  If left untended, it could lead to depression, withdrawal and even no longer using your gifts & talents to build up the Body of Christ. It might be caused by the feeling of being overlooked, feeling something wasn’t fair and a list of many other things.  But you have to be careful with bitterness because it has many shades to it.

Those who created the pain of your present do not control the pleasure or the blessings of your future unless you let them.”

Hebrews 12:15 reminds us not to allow any “seed” to sprout up in the soil of our souls.  A seed starts out really small…almost unnoticeable.  But the bad thing when it comes to bitterness…if you let it grow, it’ll keep growing.  It’s like weeds in your front or back yard.  Even when you don’t have grass…weeds will stay green and continue to flourish unless you deal with them.  That’s why it’s so important to deal with bitterness at it’s root.  A good way to identify bitterness is when people begin to complain.  Bitterness usually starts with complaining…they’ll start to verbalize negativity.

The Bible gives a great illustration on this subject in the book of Matthew 20 when a landowner made a deal with a worker to do work in his vineyard for a set price.  The landowner then hired other workers who worked only an hour.  At the end of the day, he paid them both the same amount. The ones who were hired first “grumbled” or became bitter.  The landowner even said, “Am I not being fair? Didn’t we agree on this price?” In other words, sometimes God is asking us, “why are you bitter because someone else was a recipient of my grace & mercy?”

Many people in the Bible got bitter. Here’s just a small list; 1. Job 10:1 (Job complained over a situation he had no control over), 2. Genesis 27:34 (Esau sought forgiveness with bitter tears for giving up his birthright), 3. Exodus 1:14 (God’s people went through bitterness of heart), 4. Ruth 1 (Naomi changed her name to ‘mara’ which meant bitter. She even blamed God.), 5. 1 Samuel 1 (Hannah was bitter because she couldn’t have a child), 6. Ester (Hamman was bitter towards Mordecai). 7. Jeremiah (He got bitter towards God’s people where he didn’t want to use his gift of prophecy. 8. Peter (He became bitter with his own failures).

We’ll continue with this thought tomorrow. Today I just wanted to paint a picture of bitterness and how many of us can so easily come to a place of bitterness in our own life.  But we won’t stay here…it does get better for those who choose not to stay bitter.  We’ll get rid of that bitter taste tomorrow.

 

7 Things to Remember…

“They spotted him off in the distance. By the time he got to them they had cooked up a plot to kill him. The brothers were saying, “Here comes that dreamer. Let’s kill him and throw him into one of these old cisterns [pit]; we can say that a vicious animal ate him up. We’ll see what his dreams amount to.”” – Genesis 37: 18-20

Have you ever had a pit experience in your life?  Maybe it wasn’t like Joseph where he was thrown into a pit by his own brothers (they actually wanted to kill him).  But maybe it was a different pit.  It could be a financial pit, maybe a relational pit where things just aren’t the same anymore with your spouse or it could be some kind of storm or trial.  One thing I have learned over the years…is that you can’t bypass the pits in life.  They’re going to happen to all of us.  The question isn’t whether pits will come into our life or not…but what are you going to do when you find yourself in a pit? Over the next few blogs, I want to share with you Seven Things to Remember When You Have a Pit Experience.  I pray that these will help you overcome the pits that might be coming your way or possibly that you’re in right now.

1.  Are You Ready for Change Yet?

This is always the first thing we have to ask ourselves when we find ourselves in a pit.  I’m pretty sure Joseph even asked himself this question too.  It’s a question I think will come to our minds: how is God trying to change me? God is always trying to change us. If you’re married, I’m sure you can say an AMEN to that. Why? Cause as soon as you get married, you’re going to go through changes.  But these are good changes.  I can testify that marriage has made me more gentle, kind, etc.  I’ll never forget the day when God told me, “be careful how you talk to my daughter.” That got my attention right away. We have to be willing to change.  Sometimes we hold back the blessings of God cause we refuse to change.

 2.  Attacks Will Come

The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.  We can’t sit around and complain about what we’re going through.  I’m sure you probably knew someone like that when you were younger.  And chances are, some of them might still be like that today.  Instead of letting life beat you up, you have to begin to speak things into existence. I do this all the time.  You have to begin to say things like, “Favor is coming, provision is coming, blessings are coming, healing is coming, salvation for my kids is coming, finances for these bills are coming, doors are going to open, my husband is changing for the better, my wife is changing for the better…” or even things like “I have great potential, I can change, I can get a degree, I can become a great parent, I can get a better job…” I guarantee that things will begin to change because you first changed. Joseph was a great example of this! He found himself in a pit, he was sold as a slave, his family turned on him and he found himself in jail.  If anyone had a reason to get bitter…it was him.  But he actually changed things around and God began to promote him.

In the next blog, we’ll continue our journey through the Seven Things to Remember When You Have a Pit Experience…

 

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!