The Best is Yet to Come

The Best is Yet to Come2“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” – John 10:10

Let me start this blog off by saying that this is going to be the best year of your life. I believe that with all of my heart! If you’re breathing as you’re reading this (go ahead and take a deep breath just to make sure that’s you) then God is not finished with you.  There’s still a work that He has for you to accomplish. I love how Jesus says it in this verse, “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” He’s talking to YOU & I! He wants you to have a FULL life! Another version puts it like this, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” I’m so excited to see what God is going to do in your life this year.  It’s going to be better than you could of dreamed of. Believe me, The Best is Yet to Come!!!

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Over the next few blogs, we’re going to dream. And if I were you, I’d dream big.  I don’t know about you, but I serve a big God.  He has given me some big dreams.  Dreams that are so big that I need His help to see them come to pass.  Are those the kind of dreams you have?  I believe God has a special dream he has already given you.  I’d dare to go as far as saying that some of you already know what that dream is.  Maybe there was a dream you had last year but weren’t able to see it come to pass.  I want to encourage you to get up, dust yourself off and get back to it.  I remember the first time God told me I was going to be a pastor.  Something inside of me thought that it was going to happen the very next year.  Well…was I wrong. It actually took 17 years to see it come to pass.  Should I repeat that? 17 years! There’s going to be a little thing called “The Process” for all of us.  But God is with you & here’s a little secret between you and I…God’s promises don’t have an expiration date attached to them!  I know that’s good news to someone.  Be encouraged today.  God still has greater things for you.  He has a dream he wants you to accomplish.  It might seem a little far fetched…but that’s the God we serve.  He’s in the business of working out the impossible.

So what’s your dream? What’s your passion? What do you have a strong desire for this year? Maybe you want to see God do something new in your family, your marriage, your career, your finances, your spiritual life or some other area in your life.  This could even be the year that you start to give back to those around you in a brand new way.  Maybe God’s been putting it in your heart to open up your house to host a bible study (life group), helping people who might of came from a similar background as yourself or maybe just by being more available with the gifts and talents God has given you.  The possibilities are endless.  If you don’t know, I’d like to encourage you to make some time this week to get alone with God.  Quiet yourself in His presence and ask God to begin to speak to you.  Ask him to show you what He wants you to do this year.

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In Genesis 37:5-11, the Bible talks about how “Joseph had a dream.” I want you to go ahead and put your name there. “Wilber had a dream” or “Matilda had a dream.” You see where I’m going with this?  God has a dream for you! Our dreams are like a sharp double edged sword by which we cut through disappointments, discouragements, adversity and evil opposition.  Like we read in the beginning…it’s the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy.  Maybe the enemy tried to come and do that to your dream this year.  But I want to encourage you to start dreaming again.  It’s a brand new year. God wants the best for you and your entire family.

I remember when I first came to know Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior that my dreams were small.  I just wanted to be a different person.  If you’re there, start there.  Once you begin to dream, God will exceed your expectations time and time again.  I encourage you to begin dreaming today. The Bible is full of people who had dreams. So, what’s yours? This is your year and The Best is Yet to Come!!!

“If you can dream it, you can it.” – Walt Disney

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Is There Anybody Out There?

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Today we’re going to read one verse.  That’s right…just one verse.  However, it’s a verse that will be individualized for both  you and I.  Before I share this scripture with you…let me give you some context behind the story.  For 29 verses in this chapter, God is pronouncing judgement on his people.  He’s condemning & telling them that he had tried to reach out to them time and time again…however they didn’t respond.  He had sent people to warn them but they failed to hear His warnings.  So here we go…verse after verse…God is reminding His people about what he had tried so hard to do…but they ignored him.  But all of a sudden…out of nowhere…the condemning & judging God that was speaking for 29 verses, cries out one more time.  Even though he had come to a point of enough is enough…he says, “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” (Ezekiel 22:30)

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I love the wording in this scripture because God is so detailed on the particular words he uses.  It says that, “I looked.” That word “look” (“sought” in other translations) refers to a person who is earnestly seeking something which or someone who exists or someone who is thought to exist. God was believing for just one.  Just one person that would rise up so the enemy wouldn’t be able to come in.  Just one that would be a prayer warrior and seek his face.  This verse shows that God is in pursuit of finding such a person.  The question for you and I today is…”are you that person?” Are you that man or woman who would take their place in that gap? Are you that young person who would answer the call of God on your life? Are you that single parent that would be a prayer warrior? Are you willing to build up that wall of intercession for your city, for your church, your life group and your family? God is seeking one church, one city and even one person that wants to make a difference.  Are you that person? Let it not be said, “He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede…” (Isaiah 59:16).  God is calling both you and I to a deeper level of intimacy with him.  Remember those times when all you wanted to do was be in his presence? Remember those moments when nothing else mattered more than being at his feet? Remember when your heart cried out for more of him in your life? Let’ s get back to that kind of relationship with God.

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Before we end today, I want to leave you with a story…

There was a man named Dr. Alexander Duff. He was a great, long time missionary to India in the 1800’s. When he was an old man, after spending his whole life reaching people in India…he returned to his homeland in Scotland. He returned to die there. He was sick, very old and frail. He couldn’t preach anymore and he could barely walk. One day during the general assembly of a church in Scotland, Dr. Duff asked if he could address the young men and women that were there. He was given the opportunity and he made a strong appeal for young people to volunteer their lives for India…but no one responded.

Not one man or woman responded. So under this strain…he kept on making his appeal. The aged missionary fainted and fell to the floor and was carried off the platform.  The doctors that were there, rushed over to help the old veteran.  While they were examining his heart, all of a sudden Dr. Duff opened his eyes and said, “Where am I? Where am I now?” And the doctors said ‘Lay still. Your heart is very weak.’ Then the old warrior replied, “No, I can not lie still. Please help me to get back to the pulpit.” They said ‘that’s impossible. Lay still.’ He refused and he began to move. So the doctor and the other gentlemen that was there, helped him up. He gathered as much strength as he could and got back on his feet.  And the great white-haired prayer warrior & man of God was led back to the pulpit.

The whole congregration rose in honor of his courage.  He quickly ignored their applause and said, “No, no…listen to me.” And he said, “When Queen Victoria calls for volunteers, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of young men respond…but when King Jesus calls, not one of you is willing to stand and go.” And he began to weep. And he said, “Is it true that there’s not even one more son of Scotland that’s willing to go and give his life to preach the gospel in India?” Still no one responded. Then under the heavy burden of India’s unreached millions…he looked at the crowd and he said, “Ok. Very well then. If Scotland has no more young men or women that are willing to lay their lives down and go & preach the gospel to this dying country…then this old, worn out man…I will go back. And even though I don’t have the strength to preach anymore, I’ll go back and I’ll lie down on the shores of the Ganges River and I’ll die there in order to let the people of India know that there’s at least one man in Scotland who cares enough for the souls to give his life for them.”

And at this, he turned his back and began to walk away…weeping. And as he was walking away, from over his shoulder…it says, that young men and young women began to stand at their feet and cry with all their heart, “I’ll go.” Then another “I’ll go.” And then another “I’ll go.” And many more began to follow in saying, “I’ll go, send me.” He turned and looked…and smiled. There was a multitude of young men and young women who answered the call. The story goes on to say that a few days later he died and went on to be with the Lord. Many of those young men & women actually went to reach people in India.

The same call is going out today for you and I…will you respond? Are you that man? Are you that woman? I believe with all my heart… YOU ARE! Take some time today to respond to God’s cry for your city, your church, the hurting people that surround you day in and day out.  I can guarantee that you won’t regret it.

This is How We Do it

This is How We Do it

Exodus 17:10-13, “Joshua did what Moses ordered in order to fight Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses’ hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down. Joshua defeated Amalek and its army in battle.”

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I want to take the time today to paint a symbolic picture of a fight that you and I fight everyday from this portion of scripture.  It’s nothing new. As a matter of fact, this has been happening for thousands of years. It’s a fight that you and I are very familiar with.  And if we’re not careful, it’s a battle that could get the best of us.  It’s a battle that’s bigger than self. You won’t be able to have victory over this enemy with spears, swords or other man made weapons. Sadly, many have tried to battle this way and have left with the bitter taste of defeat. I want to challenge you today to be different.

The war I’m referring to is between the flesh and the spirit. The Amalekites were a warring people. They were even a brutal people. There have been stories where they had taken people hostage, mutilated their bodies and put them on display as a warning to others. We pick it up in this story for their third attack against the Nation of Israel. The battle in this portion of scripture took place at a city called, Rephidim, meaning, “self, natural or flesh.”

It’s a dangerous place when we begin to put trust in the flesh. It’s a place where we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to.  It’s a place where we begin to trust in talent, intellect, riches or charisma. It’s a place where the enemy will try to attack us time and time again because it’s easier for the flesh to come under attack when we’re here.

intercession

You might find yourself at Rephidim today. Believe me…we have all been here.  It’s when we get to a place when we no longer spend that quality time with God in the morning before we go about our day.  It’s when we begin to spend more time watching tv or online. It’s when we begin to operate in the flesh…rather than operating in the spirit.  It’s when we begin to say “we’ll pray on the way to work,” but never really have that connection with God because we’re so busy with other things.

“It’s not about what happens in the valley of interaction, but it’s about what happens on the hilltop of intercession.”

We can be busy doing so many things, yet miss the one thing that matters most. There’s a call going out for you and I to begin to pray like never before.  I love the part that follows in verse 14 because God begins to tell Moses to write down what had happened as a reminder to Joshua.  Why? Because Joshua didn’t see that it was not by might, nor by power but by God’s spirit that the victory had come.  It wasn’t his amazing leadership, his great warfare strategy or his superb ability to swing a sword. Sometimes we don’t realize the power that we have when we begin to pray.  I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now, but you’re not going to overcome it by talking about it, staring at it, trying to figure things out or by responding on your own understanding.  We’re going to need the power of God. That’s the only thing that will bring about true victory in our lives.

Just recently in my own time with the Lord…I heard him speak so clearly to me saying, “Your spirituality has brought you to this point of fruitfulness…but it won’t take you to where I want you to go…I want more.” I believe God’s asking for a deeper level of intercession. I love how the apostle Paul said it, he said “I want to know him.” He didn’t say, “I want to know about him.”

In the next blog, we’ll dig deeper on this subject. There’s so much on the subject of intercession to cover. We’re going to see how even the disciples struggled with intercession…so we’re not alone. However, I believe today is a new day and God could turn every situation that you’re going through around. Take time today to go back to your first love with the Lord…don’t let your relationship with him grow cold.

Why Should I Love My Church?

I-Love-My-Church

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?

church

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.

thebodyofChrist

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.

Top Blogs of 2012

Top Blogs

Here are the most popular blog posts of the year…

5. Increase our Faith

4. Show Me the Money

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2. What Are You Looking At?

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“Thank You” to everyone for visiting this site this year…

Happy New Year, REALLY looking forward to 2013!

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.